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SLO County releases its 2013 annual crop report 

Totals are in for the gross revenue and production from agriculture in San Luis Obispo County.

The San Luis Obispo County Department of Agriculture/Weights and Measures released their 2013 annual crop report on April 2. The report highlights production statistics and gross revenue from the expansive agricultural industry across the county.

Total gross crop values in 2013 reached $960,710,000, up from a bit less than $862 million in 2012. The increase represents overall crop value, while production for particular crops in 2013 varied, said SLO County Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer Martin Settevendemie.

“Despite challenging drought conditions and unusual weather in 2013, values reached record-breaking levels, which is a testament to the perseverance of the local agricultural producers,” Settevendemie said in a statement.

He added that the report only reflects that commodity gross values have increased, and “does not include the ever increasing costs of production, such as transportation, labor, and fuel costs that affect profit margins.”

Wine grapes topped the list, grossing roughly $220.36 million, up 10 percent from the previous year. Strawberries, which had been the No. 1 crop in 2011 and 2012, grossed roughly $210.58 million, up a few percentage points from the previous year, including a 13 percent increase over fresh berries harvested (rather than being processed) thanks to mild weather conditions and limited rainfall.

That mild weather helped bolster other crop production. In addition, the vegetable sector did quite well in 2013, benefiting from a drought-related decrease in production in the Central Valley.

“Because we were able to irrigate and produce high quality crops, demand was high and prices were high,” Settevendemie said.

Cattle and calves remained at the usual third most valued crop, with a significant increase in value, jumping from roughly $69.49 million in 2012 to $96.4 million in 2013. The spike is a result of ranchers selling off droves of cattle because of a severe lack of feed on the ground and rising costs of purchased supplemental feed. Because of the partial liquidation, total year-end cattle values will likely be lower than normal in coming years.

-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay

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