WUFT News

Florida’s Agriculture Industry Continues To Grow

By on October 23rd, 2013
Florida continues to lead the the nation in orange production, boasting $1.5 billion in sales in 2012.

Chrissy Wainwright / Flickr

Florida continues to lead the the nation in orange production, boasting $1.5 billion in sales in 2012.

Florida’s agriculture industry is continuing to grow, according to a report released last week by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Ranking second behind California in fresh market vegetable production, Florida’s agriculture industry reported steady growth in 2012 from the previous year.

The report “Florida Agriculture: By the Numbers” cited increased sales of oranges, honey and other agricultural commodities.

“Florida agriculture remains a very viable and resilient group,” said Dan Sleep, senior analyst and supervisor for the Florida Department of Agriculture. “It’s a very tough environment to produce products in and our farmers show an exceptionally good job of doing that.”

The total impact of the agriculture industry on Florida’s economy exceeded $100 billion in 2012, accounting for 8 percent of the state’s gross domestic product, he said.

Sleep attributes much of this economic success to Florida’s 47,500 farms that have a vested interest in the long-term health and welfare of the industry. Spanning more than nine million acres and growing roughly 300 various products, Florida’s farms ranked first in the report for production value of grapefruit, squash, sweet corn and watermelon among others.

The report also highlighted Florida’s continued national lead in orange production, boasting a 15.4 percent increase in crop value from $1.3 billion in sales in 2011 to $1.5 billion in sales in 2012.

“As these commodities gain strength, they add tens of thousands of jobs out there in a variety of capacities,” Sleep said. “There’s a whole array of skilled and semi-skilled positions that are created to make sure the products literally go from the field to New York City or London or wherever they’re shipped to. It’s a rather amazing process.”

Two million jobs are supported by the agriculture industry, representing about 14 percent of the state’s workforce, according to Dr. Alan Hodges, who works as an extension scientist in Food and Resource Economics at the University of Florida.

Hodges links the industry’s prosperity to Florida’s significant supply of agricultural labor, noting that many specialty crops, such as fruits and vegetables, require large amounts of hand-harvesting workers.

“In a lot of places where incomes are growing, people start demanding more of these high-valued fruits and vegetables instead of just basic cereals and other staple foods,” he said. “With this increasing affluence and disposable income, people want more high-quality foods like meats, dairy products, fruits and vegetables.”

Hodges associates this increased demand with particularly major agricultural growth in inland counties. He said agriculture and related industries represent half of the economy in counties such as Alachua, Suwanee and Madison.

Alachua County is the leading producer of blueberries in the state with the fruit valued at $60 million a year, Hodges said.

Aparna Gazula, commercial horticulture agent for Alachua County, attributed the county’s blueberry boom to its close proximity to UF. She said much of the field research conducted for finding and testing blueberry varieties has taken place at the horticulture department on campus, allowing local farmers to implement these practices early on.

“We still have been adding acreage every year, but other counties have also been adding more acres of blueberries,” she said. “But given our edge in being the largest to begin with, I think we’ll still have quite a few acres on other counties continuing into the future.”


This entry was posted in Business and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Business

Cory Wise (left) and Courtney Buckley (right) work together to clean a residence. Wise and Buckley work for Student Maid, owned by Kristen Hadeed.

National Organizations Encourage Female Business Owners

What started out as a cleaning job to pay for a pair of jeans turned into a booming Gainesville business. Since then, business owner Kristen Hadeed’s cleaning company, Student Maid, has been successful and is growing daily.


First Magnitude Brewing Company in Gainesville fills growlers in the 32-ounce size (left) and the gallon size (right). A longstanding ban on the popular 64-ounce growler prevents Florida craft breweries from filling or selling containers of that size.

Florida’s Craft Beer Industry Sees Growth Despite Growler Ban

Florida brewers are thriving despite a controversial law that prohibits the sale of 64-ounce beer growlers. A lawsuit calling the limit unconstitutional could change all that.


The Blanche Hotel is proposed to undergo a $14 million renovation to bring more businesses to downtown Lake City.

Historic Lake City Hotel to Undergo $14 Million Renovation

A project to renovate the historic Blanche Hotel in downtown Lake City will soon be underway. Lake City Mayor Stephen Witt said he is hoping the renovations bring new allure to downtown Lake City.


A Season’s Waste Makes Wine

Island Grove LLC., a Hawthorne berry farm, made a partnership to found a winery that makes use of the berries left in the fields at the end of the season that would have been frozen or thrown away.


GRU

Gainesville Hires Third Party for GRU Audit, Examines GREC Contract

Gainesville Regional Utilities will be audited by a third party to investigate a 30-year contract between the company and the owners of a biomass plant.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments