What statistics say about the ‘agrilifestyle’

WHEN THE FOLKS from Central Florida Ag News told me that this was the magazine’s annual “AgriLiving” issue, I thought to myself: “I sure have been ‘agriliving’ for quite a while.” By that, I mean that people who become farmers and ranchers tend to stay farmers and ranchers for their entire lives. Their families also live the “ag life,” of course, and, might I say, for the most part they love it.

Work on the farm or ranch is routinely long — starting before dawn and continuing long after dusk — and the conditions are usually hot, sweaty and dirty, but there’s something very special about the “ag life.” It’s decent. It’s honest. It’s rewarding. It’s life sustaining. It’s nature filled. It’s refreshing. It’s America.

Statistics say a lot about agriculture and its huge role in the lives of people both inside and outside the industry. The Ag Institute of Florida tells us that Florida farmers produce 280 different commodities, employ more than half a million people and generate more than $103 billion in annual economic impact. In Polk County alone, agriculture and natural resource industries had an estimated economic impact of $14.8 billion in 2012, according to a study commissioned by the Polk County Farm Bureau.

This is interesting, too: Out of the 47,600 farms that operated in Florida in 2014, 57.6 percent of them (27,400) were classified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as having economic sales of $1,000 to $9,999 per year. Another 30.9 percent of the farms (14,700) were in the $10,000-to-$99,000 class for annual sales.

What does that say? It says on paper that 88.5 percent of Florida’s farms are small farms. It says to me that most of Florida’s farms are family farms — and that a whole bunch of good folks are “agriliving.”


column by DON HARDEN

BIO: Donald Harden, the Relationship Manager for AgAmerica Lending, grew up in the cattle and citrus business, managing a family ranch of several thousand cattle and horses. He has more than 30 years of experience in the real estate business, and more than 20 years specializing in agricultural sales. Don has owned and operated farm and ranch supply stores, machinery auction companies, and farms. He has served as a director and on the board of the Cattlemen’s Association, as the manufacturer’s representative for ag equipment companies, and as a beef cattle specialist for a national feed company. Don has traveled across the U.S. as a sales rep. conducting seminars and fostering long-lasting business relationships. Don enjoys his work at AgAmerica, as he has never met a stranger.