It was actually the headline of a column I wrote in June 2008, while I was at the Red Bluff, Calif., bureau of the Redding Record Searchlight. I rediscovered it today while thumbing through archives looking for background on something else.
The column reads:
Is the weak dollar boosting Tehama County's crop values?
The total value of the county's agricultural production in 2007 was a record $190.7 million, up nearly $28.4 million over 2006, Agricultural Commissioner Rick Gurrola noted in his annual crop report last week.
Walnuts alone rose nearly $15.4 million, or almost 40 percent, "driven largely by a favorable foreign currency situation for exports," Gurrola said in his report.
While the declining dollar has been fueling fears of inflation -- not to mention making travel abroad a rather unattractive prospect -- there's a silver lining to this dark cloud. It's the fact that many American goods and services can be had pretty cheaply by foreigners. [ ... ]
So is that exchange rate fueling agricultural production, here and elsewhere?
"The walnut and almond industries have both been able to develop the foreign markets," Gurrola told me.
Actually, agricultural values rose almost across the board -- including olives and milk. The county's 17 percent increase in overall value can be credited to a variety of factors, including increased orchard acreage, prices for commodities and recovery from a disastrous olive crop in 2006, Gurrola's report said.
Also, someone made the point last week that we shouldn't confuse high values with profits. Farmers and ranchers are seeing rising production costs, such as the skyrocketing prices of diesel fuel and gasoline.
This winter's freeze didn't help, either. Losses in Tehama County -- estimated about $16 million -- have prompted Gurrola's office to seek a disaster declaration, he said.
Still, despite the rising costs and setbacks, one can't blame the agricultural business for looking at foreign markets and seeing a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
It just goes to show that when it comes to fiscal matters, not much has really changed in the past three years.