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Overall agriculture value hit hard by ongoing Central Coast drought

Jay Thompson - Cal Poly
Strawberries grow on the Cal Poly campus.

The ongoing drought is taking a big bite out of the Central Coast agriculture industry. 

The latest numbers from the San Luis Obispo County Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures shows a steep decline in total gross crop value. That number fell eight percent last year compared to 2014 coming in at nearly $828.8 million.

San Luis Obispo Agriculture Commissioner Martin Settevendemie said the drought played a big role in that drop, primarily in the cattle industry.

"We've seen the lack of rain diminishing the carrying capacity on our grazing lands, lack of natural forage production, so that prompted the sell-off of cattle over the past couple of years and it really spiked last year," said Settevendemie.

Strawberries continue to hold the top slot in terms of value, followed by wine grapes, cattle and broccoli. Strawberries actually benefited from the dry weather conditions.

Wine grapes were exceptionally hard hit with yields dropping to levels not seen since 1999, but that was more a function of the cool spring temperatures, not the drought according to the Commissioner.

The San Luis Obispo County numbers are just one piece of the overall picture. Santa Barbara and Monterey Counties have not yet released their 2015 crop reports.