When the country's No. 1 farming state produces $14 billion in agricultural and food crops in one year, it takes a little time to figure out exactly what's been grown and where it went. That's one of the reasons California's 1979 calender year report on state exports of agricultural commodities has just been released.
Late or not, the statistics show that California's farm exports last year increased by 17 percent to $2.8 billion -- about one-fifth of the state's total farm marketings. Leading export -- no, not lemons, oranges or grapefruit -- was cotton, valued around $800 million with over half of this total going to Japan and South Korea. Cotton as a commodity accounted for 29 percent of California's export total.
Nearest ranking competitor on the state's farm commodity export list was -- no, not avocados or celery or melons or raisins -- almonds. This crop brought in a total of $287 million from outside buyers, bringing ity to 10 percent of the state's exports. Major purchasers were West Germany, Japan, Britain, and France.
Third leading California export farm commodity was the grape crop, going largely to Canada and Japan. Wheat, rice, and cattle products followed in that numerical order to various countries.
California exports utilize 32 percent of the state's cropland; and eacg dollar in exports is said by Department of Agriculture officials to generate $2. 05 in back-up economic activity. The state's exports, too, are nationally responsible for over 90,000 jobs in agriculture and related sectors.
Several of California's important field crops are very heavily dependent on foreign sales. Over 80 percent of the state's cotton and wheat crops were contracted for internationally, as well as almost one-half of the rice and clover seed production. The California almond, broccoli, tomato, and peach crops were notable in 1979 for registering export increases. Other vegetables showed a downward export trend, largely due to a slowdown in Canadian buying and the deterrent of increases in overall transportation costs.
Data sources for the statistical survey exclude intrastate shipments, shipments in transit through the US, shipments to the armed forces for their own use, and secondary manufactured articles.