Cattle overtook coffee in a ranking of Hawaii farm commodity values in 2009, while the overall industry value expanded by 4 percent to a 29-year high.
The accounting of statewide farm revenue is from the most recent data published by the National Agricultural Statistics Service local field office.
Farm revenue totaled $628 million in 2009, up from $605 million the year before, the report said.
Collectively, farm industry value neared but fell short of the record set in 1980 at $642 million. However, historical sales aren’t adjusted for inflation, so sales in some earlier years would have exceeded the 2009 total if the value of a dollar was adjusted.
Of the top 20 commodities in 2009, values increased for nine but declined for 11.
The gainers were algae, bananas, basil, cattle, eggs, head cabbage, milk, seed crops and sweet potatoes.
The biggest gain — about $46 million to $223 million from $177 million — was from seed crops, which is the biggest crop in the state by value. Because the seeds are not sold (seed companies use the seeds produced for research and replication), the Agricultural Statistics Service uses seed company spending as an alternative to revenue.
Other crop values are measured by revenue, which is affected by production volume and prices.
Sugar cane, the state’s No. 2 crop, produced $44 million in revenue in 2009, unchanged from the year before.
The collection of flower and nursery crops suffered a decline to $80 million from $95 million because of damage by volcanic emissions, drought and the sluggish economy.
A drop in macadamia nut production was behind a roughly $5 million decline in sales to $29 million. For coffee, lower prices caused a nearly $1 million decline in sales to $28 million. That slip in conjunction with a $5 million gain to $29 million for cattle sales made cattle the fourth-largest single farm commodity.
Taro sales totaled $2.4 million, down from $2.7 million.
Pineapple revenue is included in the overall farm industry total but not broken out to protect competitive information of individual farmers.
Other large contributors to Hawaii’s agricultural industry in 2009 were aquaculture, which saw sales decline by about $2 million to $32 million; fruits excluding pineapple, which saw sales increase by nearly $2 million to $25 million; and vegetables and melons, with roughly unchanged revenue at $22 million.