The current rains are affecting farmers’ bottom lines across California’s Central Coast. Unfortunately, all Americans may start to notice a difference in the grocery store as some staples become harder to find.
"For the farms that were flooded, this catastrophe hit at the worst possible time," said California’s Strawberry Commission President Rick Tomlinson in a statement. "Farmers had borrowed money to prepare the fields and were weeks away from beginning to harvest."
Acre after acre of strawberries and lettuces are literally underwater at a time when farmers should be getting ready to harvest. While the state grows about half of all the fruit and vegetables for the country, Monterey County is responsible for over $4 billion in revenue primarily through strawberries, lettuce and broccoli.
Foxweather.com put Monterey’s importance in perspective with a few stats:
- Strawberries: Monterey County crops brought in $3.02 billion during the 2021-2022 season, which is more than 31% of the crop that the state brings in. California grows 91% of America’s strawberries, according to the USDA. The berries are the states 6th most valuable crop.
- Lettuce: Lettuce crops bring in $2.03 billion statewide, the 8th biggest money making crop. Monterey brought in 57% of it.
- Broccoli: Monterey brought in 62% of the state's $631 million broccoli profit.
- Cauliflower: Monterrey brought in 45% of the state’s $343 million in cauliflower product.
Waiting to see how damages tally up, some county officials and local agricultural leaders have come to their own wary but educated guess on the final economic blow, once fields are dry and consequences are apparent.
Chris Valdez, president of the Salinas-based Grower-Shipper Association, hazarded some estimations. Using the $324 million in crop losses projected from January’s floods as a starting point, Valdez said the added acreage under water this month could translate into net losses to local agriculture’s crop production value totaling around $500 million.