I’VE SAID IT BEFORE, but it merits repeating: Florida agriculture is big. Make that HUGE. It’s huge in scope, in numbers, and importance — importance not only to those of us fortunate to live here but also to people across the nation and around the world.
About those huge numbers, don’t just take my word for them. Supporting me are statistics reliably researched by folks who excel at that sort of thing — folks at the University of Florida, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and many other agencies.
For a snapshot of Florida agriculture, consider just a few of the numbers that put my “HUGE” description of the industry in good context.
• 1 — Florida’s national ranking in the value of production for fresh-market snap beans, fresh-market cucumbers, cucumbers for processing, grapefruit, oranges, sugarcane, fresh-market tomatoes, and watermelons (2016).
• 2 — Florida’s national ranking in the value of production for bell peppers, fresh-market sweet corn, squash, and strawberries (2016).
• 3 — Florida’s national ranking in the value of production for fresh-market cabbage and honey (2016).
• 7 — Florida’s ranking among the states with ag exports topping $4 billion (2014).
• 10 — Florida’s national ranking in beef cattle (2016).
• 47,100 — The number of Florida’s farms and ranches (2016).
• 1.62 million — The number of people working full- or part-time in agriculture, natural resources, and food industries in Florida (2015).
• 1.7 million — All cattle and calves on Florida farms and ranches (as of Jan. 1, 2017).
• 9.41 million — The acres occupied by Florida farms and ranches (2016).
• 15.4 million — Acres of Florida timberland (2014).
• 345 million — The total dollar value of Florida production of corn, cotton, cottonseed, hay, peanuts, soybeans, and wheat (2015).
• 825 million — All Florida citrus fruit on-tree sales (2016).
And, the big-kahuna statistic, the number that captures it best about Florida agriculture …
• 161 billion — Including natural resources and food industries, the 2015 dollar value of output or sales from agriculture, the Sunshine State’s second-leading industry behind tourism.
With big numbers like these, who can’t appreciate Florida agriculture and all the people involved with it?
This column is sponsored by Labor Solutions.
BIO: Baxter Troutman is founder and chief executive officer of Labor Solutions, a staffing agency with five locations in Polk, Hillsborough, and Desoto counties. You can visit his Agritourism/Ranching operation at www.DH-LR.com. A cattle rancher, citrus grower, and former member of the Florida House of Representatives, Troutman understands the challenges, concerns, and importance of today’s farmer. Together we can Keep Florida Growing!