Monterey County Farm Bureau

CA Ag Economy

The USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) has released its first production data summaries for 2019 in California, with a total for the year of $50 billion, an slight increase over 2018. California remains the leading agricultural state in the nation, with about 13 percent of total US production. California leads the country in dairy production and many other commodities, and it provides roughly half of the nation’s fruits, nuts and vegetables.

Here are the Top-10 California commodities for 2020:

  1. Dairy Products & Milk - $7.30 billion
  2. Almonds = $5.06 billion
  3. Grapes = $4.50 billion
  4. Cattle & Calves = $3.06 billion
  5. Pistachios = $2.90 billion
  6. Strawberries = $2.00 billion
  7. Tomatoes = $1.2 billion
  8. Walnuts = $9.57 million
  9. Lettuce = 9.30 million
  10. Rice = $846.9 million

Relative Agricultural Productivity

Average Agricultural Output per Employee

Monterey County


United States


(Monterey County: DRI-WEFA; US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

California Agriculture's Impact on the Economy

California leads the nation in food production, a position it has held since the end of World War II.  In 2020 (the most recent year that full statistics are available) California farmers and ranchers sold agricultural products with an on-farm value of approx. $50 billion.

Although agriculture remains a strong contributor to the state's economy, the record revenues for California farms and ranches were accompanied by record production costs.  At the same time as California agricultural revenue increased slightly in 2019, production expenses expanded more than 10%.

Nearly 2.5 million jobs in California are linked to Agriculture.  These jobs go beyond the farm to include all elements of the agricultural value chain, such as irrigation, transportation, value-added processing, canning, warehousing, sales, import/export and more.

The total direct impact of agricultural value chain exceeded $340 billion in 2008 (last time this was studied).

For every dollar of value added to the agricultural production and processing sectors, there is an additional $1.56 added to the State economy.

In addtional to farms, more than 99,000 commercial establishments in California are related to agricultural production, according to the 2007 economic census.

In the Central Valley of California, jobs tied to agriculture generate 22% of private sector employment.

In Southern California, including ripple effects, the region's agricultural sectors account for about 450,000 jobs, $25 billion in labor income and $42 billion in value added to the regional economy.

The food manufacturing sector in California generated more than $96 billion in sales.  The annual earnings of food manufacturing workers in California averaged $56,860.

Approximately $21.2 billion in agricutlural products were exported  to overseas customers in 2018.   A large portion of these exports went through the Port of Oakland, which supports more than 73,000 jobs in the Bay area and nearly 827,000 jobs across the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that the agricultural sector is the nation's largest user of freight transportation services, accounting for 31% of all ton-miles transported in the country during 2007 (the last year this was calculated).