For the first time in history, the gross total value of all agricultural production in Madera County topped $1 billion in 2004, according to the 2004 Madera County Annual Crop Report.
"We have a strong base of agriculture in Madera County," Madera County Agricultural Commissioner Robert Rolan said upon presenting the crop report to the Madera County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, "It's very obvious it's sustainable."
This production value places Madera County at 13th in statewide county rankings for 2004 and 23rd in the nation, Rolan said. This value is 41 percent higher than 2003's total.
Rolan attributes this increase to improved production in almonds and pistachios as well as increased prices for grapes. He also attributes an increase in nursery production due to the housing and accompanying landscape boom in the county, a trend he feels will continue in the future.
Almonds were the number one crop in the county, with a value of about $228 million, up by about $73 million from 2003?s total, the crop report stated. Grapes, milk and pistachios were other top value products in the county.
"We have the diversity," Rolan said. "We have a very stable basis for the agriculture that we have in Madera County. So I feel very optimistic about where we?re going, very optimistic where Madera stands in relation to the rest of the state."
Rolan's main concern for the future of agriculture was maintaining adequate water supplies. However, with proper planning, technology and recycling there can be enough water for the future, he said.
Madera County Supervisor Vern Moss shared Rolan's opinion.
"This report shows us the importance of agriculture within Madera County and the need for balance between growth and the agricultural community," Moss said. "They both can exist, the increased production shows that. Now, if we can do more on the water issues, we can guarantee the future of both."
Rolan had a very positive outlook for the future of agriculture in the county.
"As long as we are proactive, Madera County has lots of reasons to be optimistic for the future of agriculture here," Rolan said.