Agricultural damages continue to rise, now almost $60 million

January 26, 2005
Santa Paula News

Traveling west on Highway 126 through Santa Paula it’s easy to see the storm damage to local agriculture, now set at almost $60 million throughout the county…and climbing.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesTraveling west on Highway 126 through Santa Paula it’s easy to see the storm damage to local agriculture, now set at almost $60 million throughout the county…and climbing. The Ventura County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office released revised figures for damages to a variety of county crops, as well as support systems for the over $1 billion annual business, the county’s highest revenue producer. The new figures are about 40 percent higher than initial estimates and show that Ventura County growers suffered more losses than any other county in the state.The five-day storm that pounded the state hit especially hard in the Santa Paula area, with rain figures now upped to about 17 inches. On the north side of Highway 126 nursery crops are completely covered in silt, lemon trees sit in mud up to the lower branches, and sections of fencing are knocked flat where they could not withstand the flow.Much of the nursery stock with growing grounds along the Santa Clara River were wiped out between Piru and Santa Paula. Thousands of plant and tree containers were washed into the river, along with chunks of land holding avocado and citrus trees.
Although the new figures are holding damages to citrus and avocados to $6 million and $4 million respectively, estimated damage to nursery stock – much of it planted in recent years to replace Valencia oranges – has increased from $6.6 million to the present figure of $8.6 million.The revised damage report was released January 19 and shows that several crops have held their own with losses not exceeding original figures. But the damage estimate for strawberries, the county’s leading crop, has doubled to $20 million.Losses to spinach remain at an estimated 50 acres, $500,000. Other crops not showing more estimated damages are broccoli (100 acres, a $1.3 million loss), cabbage (50 acres, $350,000), celery (450 acres, $5.5 million) and kale (50 acres, $200,000). One hundred acres of leaf lettuce received damages of $470,000.Miscellaneous damages (including farm roads, buildings, irrigation systems, etc.) rose from $3 million to $5 million. Overall, damages are now estimated at $51,920,000, but a complete report of losses could take months to finalize.



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