Story Corps
An image from the 2020 Crop Report
photo credit: Courtesy of Sonoma County

About 8,500 people work in agriculture in Sonoma County, and the county's two most valuable crops are wine and milk. That's according to the most recent Sonoma County crop report. But unlike the steady increase in overall value the county's seen in years' past, the total value of Sonoma County's agricultural output in 2020 dropped by almost 30 percent from the prior year.  The county's agricultural commissioner outlined the decrease to county officials Tuesday when he presented the 2020 Crop Report. The tardy release of the report was blamed on the pandemic.

That report finds grape value per ton went down by almost half from 2019 to 2020. Apples fared better, although a lack of processors and bad weather during bloom cut tonnage by three percent. One bright spot was livestock and poultry produce values...they went up by 20 percent between 2019 and 2020 due to a 24 percent increase in both organic and conventional milk production. says ag commissioner Andrew Smith.

But one product the latest crop report didn't quantify was cannabis. And a few members of the public called out the county for ignoring such a big ag factor.

"What it really comes down to is a community is being asked to make decisions about an issue, which is new--without data," Joanne Cedar said to the board during public comment. "And we have an opportunity to collect and report on this data, and that will inform decision making, moving forward.

When asked why he didn't include cannabis data in the 2020 report, Smith cited pandemic-related delays and promised to include it in the 2021 report, expected to be released mid-2022.

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