California - Leader in Ag Innovation

California is the nation’s leader in agriculture and has been for more than 50 years, generating approximately $37.5 billion in 2010. Innovative farming techniques and expansion of agribusiness has become vital to California's economy.   2010 cash receipts were up 1% over 2008, which was the previous record.

Top agricultural commodities in 2010 were dairy products ($15%), greenhouse/nursery (10%), grapes (8%), almonds (7.5%), and cattle (5.6%).  Agricultural exports during the same term total $14.72 billion, with the tree fruits, fruits and proportions, and vegetables being the largest sources.  California farmers exported over 24% of their total production.  There has been 125% increase in agricultural exports between 2000-2010.

The average size of a farm in California was 313 acres in 2008, with 75% of farms under 99 acres.  In 2010 there were 81,700 farm families, 3.7% of national total.  The top agricultural producing counties based on agricultural sales are Fresno (11% of all agricultural production in the state), Tulare, Kern, Merced, and Monterey. 

More information on California agriculture can be found at this link.

Game Changers in Agriculture

In 2011, Grow California, an affiliate of Golden Capital Network, held the state's first Agriculture Innovation Conference for the purpose of bringing venture capitalists and other investment professionals together with leading food and fiber researchers and farmers.  At the conference, which was held at UC Davis, awards were given to the top "game changer" California agriculture companies which had demonstrated innovative and alternative methods and practices that fundamentally changed the industry  The awards recognized innovative business practices including, but not limited to, sustainable agriculture innovation, irrigation innovation, innovations in science & education, innovation in distribution & logistics, and manufacturing & processing innovation.

The 14 California "Game Changers" in Agriculture Innovation were chosen from 300 nominees and 100 finalists.  The final choices were made by a selection committee comprised of representatives from investment banks, venture capital funds, academia and the California agriculture industry.  Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez, Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy, presented Assembly Resolutions to the winners.

Two honorees are briefly profiled below:

  • The Robert Mondavi Institute won in the category of Innovations in Science and Education Initiatives.  The Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine & Food Science is LEED Platinum certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the highest rating for environmental design and construction awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council. It is the first winery to receive such certification. The new winery, brewery and food-processing complex were designed to serve as a test bed for production processes and techniques that conserve water, energy and other vital resources. The Teaching and Research Winery is the home of the world’s first wireless wine fermentation system.
  • PureSense won in the category of Water and Irrigation Management.  The company is one of the only companies dedicated to helping growers solve their water-related problems by providing them with the hardware, software and service needed to analyze critical field information.  By doing so, growers who use PureSense are seeing an increase in yields, overall plant health and decrease in farm inputs.

2011 Game Changers in Agricultural Innovation


  • Sustainable Agricultural Innovation - SureHarvest, Soquel
  • Innovations in Science & Education Initiatives - Robert Mondavi Institute Teaching & Research Winery, Davis
  • Innovative Community Initiative - National Ag Science Center, Modesto
  • Energy & Agriculture Innovation -Musco Family Olive Company, Tracy
  • Food Safety Innovation - Western Growers, Irvine
  • Energy & Agriculture Innovation - Western Growers, Irvine
  • Ag Tech Innovation - Agrian, Fresno
  • Innovative Marketing & Sales Campaign - Marrone Bio Innovations, Davis-
  • Raising Capital - Paramount Farms, Lost Hills
  • Innovation in Distribution & Logistics - E. & J. Gallo Winery, Modesto
  • Global Market Leadership - Blue Diamond Growers, Sacramento
  • Water/Irrigation Innovation - PureSense, Fresno
  • Manufacturing & Processing Innovation - Creative Research Management, Stockton
  • Innovation in Organics - Lundberg Family Farms, Richvale
  • Sustainable Ag Technology Innovation - AgraQuest, Davis

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