Florida Poultry Operations Help Drive the Economy
by TERESA SCHIFFER
sponsored by Farm Credit of Central Florida
Raising backyard chickens has become a popular trend throughout the country in recent years, and for good reason. Having a handy supply of fresh eggs for your household is convenient, and with the recent increase in the price of eggs at the grocery store, raising your own chickens can save you some money, too – as long as you can keep your flock healthy and uninfected.
The Economic Impact of Eggs and Poultry in Florida
Poultry is defined as fowl that are domesticated and raised for their meat and/or eggs for human consumption. This includes chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, quail, and guinea. Commercially, poultry is an important part of Florida’s economy. Though we aren’t among the nation’s top producers of eggs or broiler chickens (as of 2018 we ranked 17th in the U.S. for egg production), Florida poultry farms generate close to $400 million in sales each year.
Currently, Florida is home to more than 78 million broiler chickens, and more than 11 million egg layers. More than 4,700 people are employed directly by the commercial poultry industry in the Sunshine State, and another 29,000 jobs are generated by the industry in supplier and ancillary services.
In 2020, Florida’s poultry industry generated a good $8.16 billion in economic activity throughout the state. As many as 34,000 or more total jobs were created or supported by poultry farms. Tax revenue contributed to government coffers by the industry and its employees was an estimated $241 million in federal taxes, and $146 million in state and local taxes.
Florida allows backyard poulterers and other small flock owners to operate what’s known as a Limited Poultry and Egg Farm Operation. This allows small-scale farmers and chicken enthusiasts to sell whole shell eggs or dressed poultry to the public at farmer’s markets, roadside stands, or even to restaurants and hotels that serve the eggs or meat in meals to customers.
In order to qualify as a Limited Poultry and Egg Farm Operation, a food establishment permit is required by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). Such an operation is limited to 1,000 laying hens for egg production, and/or up to 20,000 birds annually for the production and sale of dressed poultry.
These types of operations are an effective method of stimulating economic activity in Florida while also empowering ordinary citizens to participate in the agricultural market.