While most people in Merced County live in cities, the surrounding countryside and the crops growing there are central to the county's economy. Collectively the crops and products that come from county's planters, growers and ranchers are valued at nearly $3 billion.

But pressures threatening agriculture in Merced and the Central Valley, sprawl, development, water shortages and the sinking price of milk are an ever-present worry for the area's farmers and the future of farming in the Central Valley.

"Off the 99" brought three local experts on ag into our studio this week in order to understand this huge industry and its impacts on Merced, California and the nation. We sat down with Diana Westmoreland Pedrozo, president of the Merced County Farm Bureau, Maxwell Norton of the UC Davis Extension and Tiffany LaMendola, an economist with the Western Dairymen.

Download the audio file.