More than 500 years ago, when European settlers landed in Florida, livestock were raised and produce was grown for subsistence. The settlers produced just enough to feed themselves and their families. Over time, advances in farm machinery, technology and practices, as well as innovations in transportation, helped Florida agriculture become the economic pillar it is today.[emember_protected custom_msg=”Click here and register now to read the rest of the article!”]
Nearly 48,000 farms on more than 9 million acres in Florida grow 300 different products. Our agricultural industries contribute more than $100 billion to our state’s economy, support 2 million jobs, and rival the economic impact of tourism and construction in Florida.
The annual “Florida Agriculture: By the Numbers” report gives an in-depth analysis of Florida agriculture and reflects the impact and importance of agriculture in Florida.
Some of the highlights from the 2012 report, released in October 2013, include: Florida ranked first in the nation for the value of production of oranges, grapefruit, fresh market snap beans, cucumbers, squash, sweet corn, fresh market tomatoes, watermelon and sugarcane for sugar and seed.
In addition, Florida’s livestock industry performed very well in 2012; sales of livestock and products increased to $1.5 billion. Sales of cattle increased to nearly $670 million, an almost $200 million increase from 2011, and Florida now ranks 12th in beef cows. In 2012, in terms of total value of production, Florida accounted for:
- 66 percent of the total U.S. value for oranges ($1.5 billion)
- 65 percent of the total U.S. value for grapefruit ($187 million)
- 52 percent of the total U.S. value for snap beans ($167 million)
- 49 percent of the total U.S. value for sugarcane for sugar and seed ($673 million)
- 33 percent of the total U.S. value for bell peppers ($207 million)
- 31 percent of the total U.S. value for fresh market tomatoes ($268 million)
Since cattle, citrus and other crops were introduced to Florida by the Europeans five centuries ago, our state’s farmers and ranchers have paved the way for the United States to become a world leader in agricultural production. Florida’s agriculture industry continues to responsibly provide food and jobs for Floridians, while maintaining our state’s rich cultural history.
Last year was a successful year for so many of Florida’s farmers and ranchers —let us hope that 2013 proves to be even more prosperous.
story by COMMISSIONER ADAM H. PUTNAM