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Politics

Agriculture Still a Rock Star for Florida Economy

October 17, 2013 - 6:00pm

Weather and economic setbacks aside, sales of Florida oranges, honey and other agricultural commodities increased in 2012 from the previous year, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam announced Friday.

When Europeans first settled in Florida in 1513, they produced just enough food to feed themselves, said Putnam. Florida agriculture has grown exponentially over the past five centuries. Nearly 48,000 farms on more than 9 million acres grow 300 different products. The industry contributes more than $100 billion to our states economy and supports 2 million jobs. I am proud to see the continuing growth that proves Floridas products are second to none.

The 180-page Florida Agriculture: By the Numbers, released Friday, gives in-depth details about growing and harvesting top Florida products, including citrus, field crops, cattle, milk, poultry, hogs, vegetables, melons, berries, nursery and greenhouse products, honey, aquaculture and forestry. (To view the entire report, go to http://freshfromflorida.s3.amazonaws.com/P-01304.pdf.)

Highlights from the report include:

-- In 2012, Florida ranked first in the value of production of oranges, grapefruit, fresh market snap beans, cucumbers for fresh market, squash, sweet corn, fresh market tomatoes and watermelon. Moving up from second place last year, the state also now ranks first in cucumbers for pickles and sugarcane for sugar and seed.

-- The state ranked second in the value of production of bell peppers, strawberries and tangerines.

-- The state ranked third, moving up from fourth place, in the value of production of honey.

-- The value of the orange crop continued to rise, with $1.5 billion in sales, up from $1.3 billion the previous year. Citrus growers produced 146.7 million boxes of oranges, up from 140.3 million the previous year, giving Florida 66 percent of the total U.S. market share. As in past years, 96 percent of the oranges were used to make orange juice.

-- Sales of other commodities also increased, including grapefruit, watermelon, snap beans, sugarcane for sugar and seed, cucumbers for fresh market and sweet corn.

-- Growers harvested vegetables from 186,700 acres, with vegetable sales exceeding $1.1 billion. This ranks Florida only second to California for fresh market vegetable production.

-- Sales of livestock and products also increased to $1.5 billion. Sales of cattle and calves increased to $669 million. Poultry farms saw $363 million in sales from broilers and eggs. Milk sales totaled $520 million.

-- Total sales of nursery and greenhouse products also increased to $1.8 billion.

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