Reflecting on the Significance of Marin County Agriculture
May 26, 2022
Agriculture is a community activity. It starts with the land, transforms with ranchers and farmers, is strengthened by a network of public, private, and nonprofit partners, and creates a bond with the community through the food produced and the myriad other benefits.
Recently the significance of Marin County agriculture was highlighted in an opinion piece in the Point Reyes Light. This piece was a collaborative op-ed from the Marin County Agricultural Commissioner, Agricultural Institute of Marin, Marin Resource Conservation District, U.C. Cooperative Extension Marin and us here at the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) — further highlighting that agriculture is embedded within this community.
We encourage you to read the op-ed so you can better understand the significance of Marin County agriculture.
Some key points brought forth in the piece include:
- Agriculture is fundamental to the community, providing jobs and contributing to the economy of the county.
- As of the 2017 farm census, there were approximately 343 family farms and 1,274 farmworkers working on 160,000 acres of land in Marin. Marin Agricultural Land Trust has permanently protected 54,000 of those acres.
- The total gross sales of agriculture (including value-added products) reach about $320 million, which represents 6 percent to 7 percent of the county’s total economic output. The farmers and ranchers provide fresh, local, healthy food—the majority of which is certified organic—to farmers’ markets, farmstands, restaurants and grocery stores, and through community-supported agriculture programs.
- Agriculture provides so many other benefits for the community. Farmers and ranchers reduce wildfire risk through grazing and firebreak roads. They provide ecosystem benefits such as biodiversity and carbon sequestration, a process to capture and store carbon dioxide in the soils.
- Ranching and farming is a tough business. The average net income per farm in Marin is $56,419 and most rely on other jobs for most of their household income. For context, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development identified $54,800 as extremely low income and $91,350 as very low income for a Marin family of four in 2021.
- Supporting and preserving our local family farms is essential to protecting biodiversity, reducing wildfire risk and promoting climate resiliency. A local vibrant foodshed is vital to public health, our environment and our economy. Supporting our local food system will keep our ranches and farms viable and protect our shared natural resources for generations to come.
For those of us here at MALT, we feel honored to work with our partners to support and preserve our local family farms, our vibrant local food system, and our shared natural resources.