Big Beef and Big Almond

P1080861Here in California, there are a number of very large farming operations.  Today, we met with Harris Woolf California Almonds and Harris Ranch Beef Company.  We learned more about the benefits of scale and vertical integration in California agriculture.  Once again, we learned that access to irrigation water is key to farming in California.

Almonds are a huge industry in California, accounting for essentially all of the US production and about 80% of the global supply – 2 Billion pounds!  Their production is increasing through the planting of new trees and increasing production from existing orchards.  It takes 3-4 years from planting to first harvest, and once established, trees will produce for 24-30 years.  Yield are approximately 2500 lbs per acre and farm price is about $2.00 per pound, grossing around $5000 per acre. There is a lot of optimism in the industry for solid global demand and steady prices.  P1080704P1080698

P1080872The highlight of my day was a visit to the Harris Ranch Beef feedlot.  This family owned company has close to 100,000 cattle on feed in one feedlot.  Their beef is marketed under their own brand and is streamed to many different markets.  It takes a lot of coordination to run a feedlot of this scale.  They feed about 1400 tonnes of feed per day, have 40 cattle trailers on the road at all times, and process 900 head per day. I was really impressed by the quality of cattle and how healthy they looked. They are working with a number of cow calf ranchers to select genetics to match up to their markets.  I think this will be a key advantage to their company as it will drive out inefficiency and allow both the cow calf operator and the feedlot operator to capture the benefits of better genetics. P1080880feedlot

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