Report shows economic impact of Inyo-Mono agriculture

By Deb Murphy

Agriculture in Inyo and Mono counties generates $78.6 million into the local economy.

That was the good news delivered by Ag Commissioner Nate Reade at Tuesday’s Inyo County Board of Supervisors meeting. The number includes both the actual value of ag production, $49.7 million plus $28.9 in associated economic activity—salaries, purchases, etc.

The study was put together by Agricultural Impact Associates based on 2015 figures, the most recent year state figures were available as a basis of comparison. The purpose of the study, according to Reade was to do a deep-dive into the industry, beyond the annual crop report.

Mono County contributed $31.2 million of that total, nearly twice Inyo’s total of $18.5 million. The biggest categorical gap was in field crops—defined as alfalfa, irrigated pasture and rangeland pasture. Mono’s total of $17.2 million was nearly three times Inyo at $6.1 million. The difference, Reade explained, reflects the difference in private land ownership between the two counties. Inyo land in private hands is roughly 2-percent of its land mass. On the other hand, Mono County’s Antelope, Hammil and Fish Lake valleys are predominantly in private ownership.

The numbers are also a good indication of Inyo’s relationship with Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Only 10-percent of ag economics are generated on LADWP leases but that percentage generates 68.6-percent of Inyo’s agricultural economic output.

While the study shows dips in ag production, especially during drought conditions, it also shows the economic consistency of the industry whose growth out strips inflation.

The study goes into detail on the ecosystem value of agriculture. But both Inyo and Mono counties fall short when it comes to economic diversity. The study concluded that, basically, there isn’t much in either county. Reade noted grapes in Fish Lake, garlic in Hammil and dates in Tecopa – but the impact is minimal compared to cow/calf operations and alfalfa.

The culprit, of course, is an uncooperative growing season that can freeze the buds off peach trees in April.

Two crops holding the best shot at diversification success are grapes and cannabis according to the report.

The study includes a range of strategies for both diversification and adding value to agricultural production in both counties. “The information is there for people to access,” Reade said. His strategy is to do more research on some elements of the study and take to agricultural groups in both counties.

The report is available on the Inyo/Mono County Agriculture Commissioner’s website under useful links/forms/reports.

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5 Responses to Report shows economic impact of Inyo-Mono agriculture

  1. Passerine April 5, 2018 at 5:35 am #

    When LADWP ceases to irrigate their grazing leases in Long Valley (which they are planning to do this summer) this Ag report will not look so rosy. Future Sage Grouse populations in Long Valley will drop as the wet meadows get replaced by cheat grass. There is a meeting April 10th in Bridgeport with the Mono County Supervisors if you want to learn more.

    • TBundy April 5, 2018 at 3:58 pm #

      As population increases in SoCal DWP will stop irrigating regardless of wet years as they will need every last drop of water all the time

  2. Mono Person April 3, 2018 at 6:41 am #

    We love our ranchers in Bridgeport Valley! They help make our Valley one of the most picturesque in California. With the irrigation practices, they help keep the valley green and not a big sagebrush dust bowl. Also, the ranchers have been ranching this area for over 100 years, and it still so beautiful. Thank you ranchers!

  3. Trouble April 1, 2018 at 8:30 am #

    I’d feel bad for our ranchers, but it seems like the few of them are doing just fine.

    • TBundy April 2, 2018 at 9:06 am #

      I’d like to see grazing end in Inyo & Mono counties


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