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2011 a bumper year for Inyo’s ag industry

May 22, 2012

Representing 54 percent of the county’s agriculture industry, local ranchers saw a jump in the price of beef this year due to a major drought in Texas that limited the Lone Star State’s ability to produce cattle. File photo

Agriculture, the number-one industry in the Eastern Sierra, saw a boon this past year in Inyo County.
According to Agricultural Commissioner George Milovich, the combined agricultural production for 2011 saw an increase of 26 percent over 2010 totals, making it the best financial year for agriculture on record.
Milovich said the agricultural industry brought in $79,412,962 to the economies of Inyo and Mono counties.
“Beef cattle remained strong in 2011, including increases in the export market,” Milovich said. “Alfalfa and other hay had major increases compared to the previous year. Our high-protein, high-elevation hay is desired by the California dairy industry.”
Other products that increased in value this past year included lamb and honey markets.
“Abundant precipitation in 2011 aided the high crop production in both (Inyo and Mono) counties,” Milovich said.
Livestock producers in Inyo County alone are responsible for contributing $14,206,655 in 2011, compared to a total of $12,134,370 the previous year.
While production in the livestock industry did go up locally, Milovich credited the dramatic increase in revenue to raising prices. “There was an extreme loss of cattle production in Texas this year due to extreme drought,” he said.
Field crop production went up from $5,208,000 in 2010 to $7,916,500 in 2011.
Milovich pointed out that Inyo County now has five local growers specializing in organic products, a market that has climbed 20 percent in the past year, contributing to the increase in revenue.
“Alfalfa was in the slumps last year, but it came right back,” Milovich said. “Last year it was selling at a price that you can’t even produce it at, but now it’s at $225 per unit and going up.” Last year, alfalfa was selling at $135 per unit, almost a $100 difference.
Milovich also said that the China Lake Date Ranch is also contributing a healthy number to the county’s agricultural totals.
In 2010, dates and miscellaneous other fruits contributed $168,000 to the county’s agricultural totals while in 2011 the total was $207,250.
The price of honey also went up by five cents, from $2.85 in 2010 to $2.90 this year, for a total of $2,827,500.
In all, livestock was the biggest contributor to the county’s agricultural totals this year.
Milovich said 54 percent of the county’s agricultural totals came from livestock, 30 percent from field crops, 5 percent from miscellaneous crops and 11 percent from apiary (honey).
“We had 150 percent precipitation for 2011,” Milovich said. “We didn’t get that this year, so we don’t know what 2012 is going to look like.”

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