Inyo County Agricultural Commissioner George Milovich says the Eastern Sierra’s agricultural ventures are on the upswing.
During his annual Ag. Report to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Milovich said that livestock, field crops and apiary industries generated more money in 2010 than they did in 2009.
In total, Inyo’s agricultural industry brought in $2,419,420 more than the previous year.
“Agriculture continues as one of the integral parts of Inyo and Mono counties’ economy,” Milovich said in his report. “The combined counties’ agricultural production for 2010 totaled $59,054,825. This figure represents an increase of 14 percent from 2009.”
Milovich went on to say that a slow recovery of dairy prices resulted in a demand for alfalfa. He also said the beef market remained stable.
Milovich said the livestock industry saw a sharp incline in revenue thanks, in part, to a drastic increase in the price of sheep and lamb. In 2009, each unit fetched a price of $100. In 2010, the price rose $40.
“The lamb market went up pretty good,” Milovich said. “We have the same growers, and the same sized herds, but lamb prices have gone up significantly.”
Milovich also said that the price of calves and steers went up $12, heifers went up $14, the price of cows went up $21 and bulls went up $17.
Milovich also said that the local organic market is booming.
“The organic market right now is progressing statewide,” he said. “There’s even grant programs running for organic farms.”
That boom, Milovich said, has helped drive local field crop production.
Local farmers growing alfalfa hay generated $440,500 more in 2010 than in 2009, thanks in part to a $10 increase in the price per ton.
Miscellaneous hay products saw a similar yield, with $68,000 more coming in in 2010 over 2009. That market also saw a $10 increase in the price per ton.
One area where the market seems to have declined is the county’s turf production. In 2009 the industry brought in $2,285,000 and in 2010 the county only recorded $1,613,900.
Milovich said that reduction is due to a reduced number of harvested acres. He pointed out that in 2009, 250 acres were dedicated to growing turf, and in 2010 only 195 acres were dedicated to the industry.
Milovich also said that the price of honey and the number of honey producers in Inyo County showed healthy growth last year, with a 35-cent increase in the price per pound and 75,000 more units produced. In all, honey brought in $2,422,500 in 2010.
“We stayed pretty doggone close to last year’s production numbers, but prices went up. Agriculture is still one of the most important industries to the state of California and Inyo and Mono counties,” Milovich said. “Every civilization dating back to ancient Greece was unable to endure following a demise of their agricultural production.”