Agriculture Still a Rock Star for Florida Economy

By: Sunshine State News | Posted: October 18, 2013 11:30 AM
Rick Scott picking Oranges

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 state’s economy and supports 2 million jobs. I am proud to see the continuing growth that proves Florida’s 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

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.

Comments (2)

Sid P.
8:13AM OCT 19TH 2013
Thank the lord that the Federal Govt. is not "managing" Florida ag the way that they are "managing the fisheries offshore. They have decimated the fishing industry to the point of extinction with gross mismanagement. Case in point is the on-going total closure of the Atlantic red snapper fishery. The emergency closure four years ago was based on a federal report that was proven in Congressional testimony to be severely flawed and even used fabricated data. The State of Florida however is doing a great job in managing the fisheries in State waters. If we were to extend State waters offshore 30 mi. and let the State FWC take it over you would be buying and eating fresh Florida caught red snapper and grouper instead of farm raised Vietnamese Basa or Chinese Pongo.
2:19PM OCT 18TH 2013
Agriculture in Florida will continue to be a rock star. (As long as we keep from planting houses on our agricultural land and manage our water more wisely.)

To wit from a recent e-mail from Lester Brown with the Earth Policy Institute "10 Things to Know About Food on World Food Day"

1. There will be 219,000 people at the dinner table tonight who were not there last night—many of them with empty plates.

2. Today, with incomes rising fast in emerging economies, there are at least 3 billion people moving up the food chain, consuming more grain-intensive livestock and poultry products.

3. In India some 190 million people are being fed with grain produced by overpumping groundwater. For China, there are 130 million in the same boat.

4. In Nigeria, 27 percent of families experience foodless days. In India it is 24 percent, in Peru 14 percent.

5. Water supply is now the principal constraint on efforts to expand world food production.

6. Nearly a third of the world’s cropland is losing topsoil faster than new soil is forming, reducing the land’s inherent fertility.

7. The generation of farmers now on the land is the first to face manmade climate change

8. At no time since agriculture began has the world faced such a predictably massive threat to food production as that posed by the melting mountain glaciers of Asia.

9. After several decades of raising grain yields, farmers in the more agriculturally advanced countries have recently hit a glass ceiling, one imposed by the limits of photosynthesis itself.

10. To state the obvious, we are in a situation both difficult and dangerous.

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