Study: Drought, price slide took toll on NE California ag economy

CHICO, Calif. — The crushing drought and a price slide for several key commodities paused a nearly decade-long boom for agriculture in northeastern California, a university study shows.
Agricultural production in a 13-county region from Sacramento to the Oregon border was worth about $4.2 billion in 2015, up 62 percent from 2006 but down by nearly 9 percent from the previous year, according to a study by California State University-Chico agricultural business professor Eric Houk.
It was the first time since 2009 that the region saw a decline in the value of agricultural production, and it came primarily because of decreased prices rather than a drop in production, Houk stated in his report.
Colusa County had the highest value of production two years ago at $901.8 million.
Walnut growers experienced their first protracted price slide in years, as the average price per pound to the grower dropped from $2.05 in 2013 to about 85 cents.
Almond prices began receding in 2015 as the crop outperformed expectations and shook the world markets.
Agriculture accounted for 18 percent of all economic activity in the region two years ago, down from 21 percent in 2014 but up from 17 percent in 2013, Houk’s report noted.
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