Planting Seeds - Food & Farming News from CDFA

Nine California Counties Make Top-10 List for Ag Sales in the U.S.

2022 Census of Agriculture released today

Taken from a USDA News Release

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) today announced the results of the 2022 Census of Agriculture, spanning more than six-million data points about America’s farms and ranches and the people who operate them.

Among the findings — California continues to have nine of the top-10 counties in the U.S in agricultural production. Grant County, Washington ranked 10th.

“Once again, California has the top agricultural counties in the nation, which is a testament to the resilience and innovation of all those involved in food production,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “I wish to thank our partners at NASS for the very detailed work required to produce the Census. These data are essential as we consider allocation of resources in our ongoing commitment to help California’s farmers and ranchers remain sustainable and flourishing.”

Census of Agriculture information, which is collected directly from producers, shows a continued decline in the total number of California farms. However, the data also show an increase in the value of agriculture sales in California.

The 2022 Census of Agriculture data show the following key trends for California.

  • The number of farms decreased to 63,134, down 10 percent from 2017 with an average size of 383 acres (up 10 percent) on 24.2 million acres of farmland (down 1 percent).
  • The market value of agricultural products sold totaled $59.0 billion, up $13.8 billion from 2017.
  • Total farm production expenses totaled $49.3 billion, up $11.5 billion from 2017.
  • At 16,699 farms, California is the top state using renewable energy producing systems in agriculture. Solar is the most common renewable energy producing system on farms and ranches in The Golden State.
  • The average age of the California farmer is 59.9, up from 59.2 in 2017.
  • Fresno County ranked #1 in the U.S. — agricultural sales in Fresno County were greater than those in 23 states.
  • After Fresno County, the remaining top-10 California counties for ag production are: Tulare, Monterey, Kern, Merced, Imperial, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Santa Barbara, and Kings.

“The 2022 Census of Agriculture provides a wide range of demographic, economic, land, and crop and livestock production information as well as first-time or expanded data such as hemp, precision agriculture, and internet access.” said Gary R. Keough, Director, USDA NASS Pacific Region. “Many of these data about California and our counties are only collected and reported as part of the every-five-year census.”

The national response rate for the 2022 Census of Agriculture was 61 percent; more than 40 percent of responses were submitted online. California’ response rate was 56 percent. Additional statistical reports, including state and county profiles and congressional districts, will be released throughout 2024.

First conducted in 1840 in conjunction with the decennial Census and conducted since 1997 by USDA-NASS, the Census of Agriculture remains the most comprehensive agricultural dataset for every state and county in the nation.

The full Census of Agriculture report as well as publication dates for additional ag census data products can be found at Ag census data can also be found in NASS’s searchable online database, Quick Stats.

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Preliminary 2023 Grape Crush Report released by USDA

For more than 40 years, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service has conducted the annual Grape Crush survey through a cooperative agreement with CDFA, and this year’s preliminary report has been released.

The 2023 crush totaled 3,728,923 tons, up 1.6 percent from the 2022 crush of 3,670,861 tons. Red wine varieties accounted for the largest share of all grapes crushed, at 1,959,024 tons, up 2.3 percent from 2022. White wine varieties crushed totaled 1,709,270 tons, up 15.3n percent from 2022. Tons crushed of raisin type varieties totaled 43,621, down 58.9 percent from 2022, and tons crushed of table type varieties totaled 17,008, down 89.9 percent from 2022.

The Grape Crush Report includes the total number of tons crushed for concentrate production. In determining grape tonnage crushed for concentrate production, each processor was required to report the estimated equivalent tons of grapes crushed for grape concentrate. For the 2023 season, this total was 282,343 tons, 7.6 percent of the 2023 grape crush total. This report provides only the aggregate figure for grapes crushed for concentrate production and does not include information by district, type, or variety.

The 2023 average price of all varieties was $1,038.97, up 11.4 percent from 2022. Average prices for the 2023 crop by type were as follows: red wine grapes, $1,346.13, up 13.6 percent from 2022; white wine grapes, $733.33, up 6.4 percent from 2022; raisin grapes, $285.60, down 7.7 percent from 2022; and table grapes, $195.57, down 8.7 percent from 2022.

A final report will be released on March 8, 2024.

Read full preliminary crush report here

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The Ultimate Game-Day Spread is Fueled by California Agriculture!

Are you having guacamole, pizza, salad, and other nutty and delicious snacks on Super Bowl Sunday? The ultimate Game Day spreads are fueled by California’s agriculture! From creamy guacamole to delicious pizza, thank California for leading the nation in producing avocados, tomatoes, nuts, and Mozzarella cheese! 

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New State Investments Help Farmworkers Gain Skills and Career Opportunities

California Labor & Workforce Development Agency supporting agricultural workers through training and education

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: California is investing in our farmworkers with new funding for career advancement and technical education.

The State of California recently announced several new investments aimed at helping farmworkers upskill within the evolving industry, as well as find new career opportunities outside of the agriculture sector. This funding is part of a larger strategy by the Labor & Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) and Newsom Administration to expand the number of agricultural workers with the education necessary to enter higher training programs, increase access to existing and emerging high-paying jobs in the agriculture industry, and improve job quality and wages.

Recent investments include:

  • $9 million from the Employment Development Department to 11 organizations to research, design, and implement projects to train farmworkers with the essential skills they need to pursue career pathways with upward mobility and higher wages. An additional $1 million from The James Irvine Foundation, as part of a public-private partnership, will allow awarded organizations to train undocumented workers.
  • $7 million to La Cooperativa Campesina de California (La Cooperativa) to provide outreach, and employment and training services to farmworkers affected at Prima Wawona, and other agricultural workers laid off throughout the State.

WHY IT MATTERS: California’s 900,000 farmworkers face disruptions and systemic barriers to employment. As the agriculture industry continues to evolve, there will be both opportunities and challenges for the workforce. Through education, training and other supportive services, these state investments will empower farmworkers to advance in their agricultural jobs or obtain employment in new industries.

What Secretary Karen Ross of the California Department of Food and Agriculture said: “These programs are key to attracting, supporting and providing high-quality jobs and leadership opportunities for a diverse agricultural workforce. We greatly appreciate this funding to help agriculture’s next generation accelerate innovation to solve problems and build opportunities, and also to help upskill the current workforce.”

What California Labor Secretary Stewart Knox said: “Investing in upskilling and reskilling benefits workers and employers alike. Workers enhance their knowledge and skills, and employers can fill needed roles in a rapidly-changing farm labor market. LWDA is proud to invest in farmworkers’ upward mobility through these new workforce training and educational programs.”

See the original release on the LWDA site here.

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USDA Detector Dogs Help Combat the Fruit Fly Threat in California

USDA Detector Dogs Combat the Fruit Fly Threat in California

These Highly Skilled K9s Can Detect Invasive Threats with One Sniff

By April Dawson

USDA’s Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) program and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) have been facing exotic fruit fly incursions in California. Luckily, PPQ and CDFA are experienced at eradicating fruit flies—and our detector dogs are trained to help! PPQ Officer canine teams from our National Detector Dog Training Center (NDDTC) are slated to deploy to California to support our fruit fly emergency response. Two canine teams were trained to detect exotic fruit fly larva within the host environs.

We appreciate this funding and the strong partnership with USDA to enhance California’s invasive pest prevention surveillance system. Detector Dogs have a proven track record for intercepting significant harmful pests that damage agricultural and natural resources. CDFA welcomes Rudey, Bradley and Levi to the state’s pest exclusion team.

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross

Our Detector Dogs to The Rescue

Detector K9 Rudey, the loveable springer spaniel, sniffs the ground for signs of pests.

These hardworking dogs represent some of the recent successes of PPQ’s Agricultural Detector Canines strategic initiative. Its goal is to expand the use of detector dogs to enhance domestic pest surveys, detect pests early, and facilitate the trade of U.S. agricultural products. “We are very excited to be heading to California to help out with the fruit fly emergency response,” said Jennifer Taylor, PPQ canine handler. “We actually trained three dogs to head to California. Rudey, a springer spaniel; Bradley a black Lab; and Levi, another black Lab. We always train an extra, so we have a backup dog available. All three have done very well and are ready to go.

The detector dogs are trained on live Mexican fruit fly larvae within fruit and will transition them to other fruit fly larvae species once we are within the quarantine zones in California. “We have a permit to have sterilized Mexican fruit fly larvae here at NDDTC”, says Taylor. “The larvae cannot become adults, so they make the perfect training tools for larvae detection dogs.”

Canine handler Byron Franklin, Jr. and K9 Bradley training in a peach orchard preparing for deployment to support California’s oriental fruit fly eradication effort.

These K9s Know Their Stuff

Canine handler Jennifer Taylor trains with K9 Levi as he catches an odor and has a good time racing toward it!

The dogs are highly skilled and able to discern between species of fly by smell. They can find as little as three larvae within fruit. It’s amazing how the dogs will find exactly what they are trained to find! Because of that, the handlers will sometimes train their searching behaviors at the NDDTC with a substitute odor and then add the primary target odors once within the quarantine zones where their target is readily available. In training their searching behaviors, the handlers try to emulate their live environment as much as possible, so the dogs have been heading out to groves, nature preserves, personal properties, and cargo areas to train. This helps them to focus and work despite interesting distractions.

The entire team—handlers and the dogs are eager to soak up that California sunshine and, of course, get to work!

See the original post on USDA’s Plant Protection Today blog.

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A conversation with State Board of Food and Ag Member Jenet DeCosta and Secretary Ross

In honor of Black History Month, Secretary Karen Ross had a conversation with State Food and Agriculture Board Member Jenet DeCosta, who is also Senior Director of Public Affairs with Driscoll’s, a California-based seller of fresh strawberries and other berries, based in Watsonville. The conversation is focused on the importance of unity and understanding in fostering an inclusive environment within the agriculture sector.

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Californians in fruit fly quarantine areas urged not to move homegrown produce this Lunar New Year

Residents urged to avoid gifting homegrown produce due to a series of invasive fruit fly infestations

As California residents prepare to celebrate the Year of the Dragon, those living within fruit fly quarantine areas are urged to not move or gift homegrown produce during the celebration of Lunar New Year (throughout much of February), as it could spread invasive fruit flies.

There are a number of quarantines currently in place — the Mediterranean fruit fly has been found in Los Angeles County; the Tau fruit fly has been been found in parts of Los Angeles County; the Queensland fruit fly has been found in parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties; and the Oriental fruit fly has been found in parts of San Bernardino, Riverside, Contra Costa, Sacramento and Santa Clara counties.

Each fruit fly species can infect and ruin hundreds of varieties of fruits and vegetables, ultimately making the produce unfit for human consumption. Adult flies lay their eggs under the skin of the produce, where larvae (maggots) then develop. Maggots then hatch and tunnel through the pulp, turning it into a rotten mass.

Fruit fly infestations can result in the loss of host fruits and vegetables in backyard gardens and commercial operations. Populations of these fruit flies must be eradicated to ensure residents can continue to grow produce at home, and to safeguard the state’s agricultural heritage.

Healthy produce free of insects and disease can be purchased from grocers, which is the best way to ensure you are giving clean, quality produce to your friends and family members as part of the holiday celebration.

Quarantines for each fruit fly prohibit the movement of homegrown produce within and outside of the quarantine boundaries. Fruit fly quarantine maps for each respective fruit fly can be found below:

Residents are urged to follow these guidelines:

  • Cooperate with agriculture officials and allow them access to your garden to place traps, inspect plants, conduct necessary treatments or remove potentially infested produce.
  • Do not move homegrown fruit, vegetables or soil from your property.
  • If you reside outside of a quarantine area, do not move homegrown fruit, vegetables or soil through quarantine areas, across the state, out of state, or across international borders.
    • When entering the United States from another country, avoid bringing agricultural products — including fruits or vegetables. Help us protect our agricultural, natural resources, and unique biodiversity from invasive fruit flies — please Don’t Pack a Pest ( when traveling or mailing/receiving packages.
  • Buy fruit trees and vegetable plants from licensed California nurseries, as receiving agricultural goods from uncertified sources can spread invasive pests. Source your plants locally and responsibly. To search for a licensed nursery near you, visit CDFA’s Directory of Licensed Nurseries.
  • Inspect your garden for signs of invasive fruit flies or maggots and report any findings to CDFA at 1-800-491-1899 or your local county agricultural commissioner’s office.

For more information on invasive fruit flies, visit

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Preparing farmworkers for the future with training and educational opportunities — Secretary Ross cites importance of $10 million in funding

Webinar tomorrow on funding program (information at bottom)

From an Employment Training Panel News Release

The State of California’s Employment Training Panel (ETP) has announced the availability of $10 million in funding as part of an Agriculture Initiative to serve businesses and workers in the agriculture sectors, including food packing, food processing, irrigation and fishing. This funding will help train farmworkers to gain new skills and career opportunities.

The ETP’s Agriculture Initiative has been launched in collaboration with the Labor & Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) as part of an Agency-wide strategy to expand the number of workers with the educational capacity necessary to enter training programs, increase access to existing and emerging high-paying jobs in the agricultural industry, and improve job quality and wages.

Funding from the Agriculture Initiative is available to businesses, groups of employers, training
agencies, workforce development boards and Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act grant

“Investing in our agricultural workforce is a priority for the Labor & Workforce Development
Agency and Newsom Administration,” said Stewart Knox, Secretary for LWDA. “This initiative,
along with the $10 million investment for the Farmworker Advancement Program at the
Employment Development Department’s Workforce Services Branch, demonstrate our
commitment to implement a strategy that was developed in consultation with stakeholders
across the agricultural industry, including representatives, growers, colleges, local workforce
boards, and advocates.”

“Investments made in California’s Agriculture industry support workers and employers to drive
economic growth,” said ETP Executive Director Jessica Grimes, PhD. “I consider it a privilege
to see the ETP further its mission in significantly transforming the lives of trainees who will earn
industry-recognized training that will position them for more career opportunities.”

“As we look to meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, we know that a highly-trained workforce is essential to the continued resilience of California agriculture and growing
our ag workforce by providing advancement opportunities in the fields and beyond,” said Karen
Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. “We appreciate the
commitment and partnership of the Employment Training Panel in working to make this

There will be an informational session for all interested parties on Friday, February 2 from 1:30-2:30 p.m. via Zoom, link provided below.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 686 132 5291

Passcode: Cdfa!220

One tap mobile

+16699006833,,6861325291#,,,,,,0#,,22155033# US (San Jose) 

Dial by your location

        +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)

Meeting ID: 686 132 5291

Passcode: 22155033

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California State Employees Food Drive raises 11,604 pounds of food and $89,000

The California State Employees Food Drive, led by CDFA’s Office of Farm to Fork, resulted in California state agencies donating 11,604 pounds of food, $89,089 in monetary donations, 784 turkeys, 461 Run to Feed the Hungry registrations (money goes to food banks), and 706 volunteer hours.

“We’re proud to announce that California state employees are continuing to raise food, funds and awareness about hunger issues in our state through the California State Employees Food Drive,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “We thank all who participated and encourage everybody to visit year-round to find food banks in each county seeking donations or volunteers to help increase food security.”

The food drive ran from November 6, 2023, to January 8, 2024. It included two state employee volunteer days at Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services. Overall, more than 60 food banks or organizations are supported by the California State Employees Food Drive.

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Secretary Ross praises groundwater recharge as a key drought strategy

Flooding farmland for groundwater recharge

From a California Water Commission News Release

The California Water Commission has approved a white paper that contains potential strategies to protect communities and fish and wildlife in the event of drought.

The white paper is in support of Water Resilience Portfolio Action 26.3, and will be shared with the Secretaries for Natural Resources, Environmental Protection, and Food and Agriculture, who requested the Commission’s engagement on this topic.

California is a drought-prone state. Climate change exacerbates drought conditions in California by creating hotter and drier baseline conditions, leading to more intense droughts. Additionally, climate change is creating the conditions for “weather whiplash” – a phenomenon California experienced in the 2022-2023 water year, swinging rapidly from severe drought to record-breaking precipitation events and flooding.

To ensure California’s people and environment have sufficient water during times of drought, the State will need to adapt to this new normal of ongoing weather extremes.

“California has experienced two of the worst droughts in our state’s history in the last decade alone,” said Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot. “While we’ve invested billions across the state to become more drought resilient in light of this new reality, there’s more we need to do to prepare for the next drought, whenever it comes. These thoughtful recommendations by the Water Commission point the way forward and I’m eager to explore how these ideas can be applied in coming years.”

The Commission’s work on drought is forward-looking. The strategies proposed by the Commission integrate months of conversations with State agencies, experts, Tribes, water users, interest groups, interested parties, and the public. The Commission has taken the input it received and charted a through-line, developing four key strategies for augmenting California’s communities’ and fish and wildlife species’ drought resilience.

1. Scale up groundwater recharge. During flood events, when all other water rights and environmental needs are met, channeling excess flows to groundwater recharge can build drought reserves. The State can help scale up groundwater recharge by planning and preparing for recharge during times of high flow, promoting recharge efforts through outreach and financial incentives, efficiently permitting recharge projects, supporting the infrastructure needed to conduct recharge, and continuing to apply lessons learned.

2. Conduct watershed-level planning to reduce drought impacts to ecosystems. To enable fish and wildlife to be more resilient to drought, the State must support fish and wildlife during drought and work to recover ecosystem function during non-drought periods, supporting viable populations that can weather the next drought period. The State can help reduce drought impacts to fish and wildlife by improving water availability for species, advancing habitat restoration and conservation projects, integrating forest management into drought planning, and creating a plan to protect species during drought emergencies.

3. Better position communities to prepare for and respond to drought emergencies. During drought, communities need resources to ensure that vulnerable community members are safe in times of crisis. In advance of drought, they need support to help abate future vulnerabilities to water scarcity by improving water systems and integrating water use into land use planning. The State can help communities prepare for and respond to drought by offering climate disaster funding, ramping up efforts to improve water system resilience and regional water solutions, and supporting integrated land and water planning.

4. Support improved coordination, information, and communication in drought and non-drought years. In California, droughts need to be dealt with as a chronic phenomenon and not an occasional emergency. The State needs to continue to align its staff capacity, improve its data collection, and contextualize its drought communication, moving from a crisis mindset to recognizing drought as a natural and inevitable element of the state’s hydrologic cycle.

“Groundwater recharge to replenish our aquifers is a key water strategy for a hotter, drier future,” said California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross. “It provides important ecosystem benefits, protects drinking water wells, and supports climate-resilient agriculture for healthy food production and thriving rural communities.”

The strategies and actions outlined in this paper are additive to the important work already underway by State agencies. The Commission expects State decision-makers to weigh whether and when to move forward with these suggested strategies.

“Drought impacts all of California’s water users, but some – small, rural communities and fish and wildlife – are particularly vulnerable,” said Commissioner Sandra Matsumoto. “The strategies proposed by the Commission will help the State protect these vulnerable water users in the event of drought. To move forward, water sectors, users, and managers must work together to minimize the impacts of drought on all Californians.”

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