Why is This Important?
Local agriculture can provide important economic, environmental, and social benefits to a community. For every dollar of agricultural production in the county, 3.5 dollars of economic activity are created. Locally-grown food maintains its freshness and nutritional value and may reduce transportation-related air pollution and costs. The cultivation and use of native species in landscaping may reduce the need for outdoor irrigation, the largest non-industrial use of water in the county. Adoption of organic farming and landscaping practices is especially important because it reduces the harmful environmental and health effects of pesticides and protects long-term soil quality.
What is a Sustainable State?
A sustainable state is one where agriculture is economically viable for both owners and laborers, and agricultural practices conserve natural resources and biodiversity, maintain healthy soils and ecosystems, and provide food security for local communities.
How Are We Doing?
· According to the San Mateo County: 2009 Agricultural Crop Report, the total gross production value of San Mateo County agriculture in 2009 was $149.2 million, a 9 percent decrease from 2008 in inflation-adjusted dollars. Total production value (in $2009) has decreased almost 40 percent since 2000.
· Total acreage of land devoted to agriculture has also decreased, though by a much smaller amount. In 2009, there were 33,297 acres in agriculture, down 6 percent since 2001 (35,509 acres). Total production value per acre has dropped from $5,890 in 2001 to $4,481 (in $2009), a loss of almost 24 percent.
· Floral and nursery crops continue to constitute the majority of agricultural value coming from county farms. In 2009, floral and nursery crops accounted for 83 percent of the county’s crop production value (about $126 million) making San Mateo County one of the largest producers of ornamental nursery crops and cut flowers in the state. Other significant production consisted of vegetable crops ($16 million in 2009), along with fruit and nut crops and livestock (about $2.3 million each).
· According to the California Employment Development Department, total farm employment in San Mateo County was 1,700 in 2009. Farm employment has decreased steadily since 1993, when it stood at 2,900.
· The total number of certified farmers markets in San Mateo County is now 17, up from 13 in 2005. Many of these markets accept WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Supplemental Food coupons and Senior Nutrition Checks.
· In 2009, there were 11 organic farms with 110 acres devoted to organic farming production. This is a signicant reduction in total organic farming acreage from 2008, when there were 193 acres. Two organic farms closed in 2009, possibly because of adverse economic conditions.