Agricultural economists at UC Davis, UC Berkeley and UC Riverside have published a new book that looks back on the many obstacles California agriculture has overcome and where it’s headed.

The same high-value crops that have enabled the state to lead the nation in farm sales for more than 70 years also present continuing labor challenges, which will speed up mechanization, according to the economists. Increases in regulations and deepening water scarcity are affecting specialty crops and especially the diary and livestock industries, which account for 24% of farm sales in the state.

The economists conclude that “the consolidation of production onto fewer and larger farms is likely to accelerate.” And yet “California agriculture has always been a dynamic industry capable of adjusting to challenges … and will likely adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic as well.”

Top photo: UC Davis Professor Daniel Sumner, an author on the report