By Robert Rodriguez
Can Kern County, home of Buck Owens, oil wells and tumbleweeds, dethrone Tulare County as the No. 1 agriculture county in the state, and possibly the nation?
It could happen. And if it does, it will be a first for the south San Joaquin Valley county.
Who becomes the undisputed agriculture champion will be revealed on Tuesday. That’s the day Marilyn Kinoshita, Tulare County’s agricultural commissioner, delivers the 2016 crop report to her board of supervisors.
Tulare County will have to do better than Kern County’s $7.2 billion to keep its No. 1 ranking.
As the nation’s leading milk producer, Tulare County has led the state in overall crop values for the last several years, stripping that title from Fresno County, the one-time ag champ.
For years, the two counties shared a friendly rivalry over who would come out on top. But California’s four-year drought took a heavy toll on Fresno County as farmers fallowed thousands of acres or shifted production to counties with more reliable water supplies.
Last year Tulare was on top with a total value of $6.9 billion.