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February 25, 2014

2012 Census Shows Florida Ag Going Strong

Despite all the farming obstacles faced by Florida, including citrus greening and the fall of the housing market on nurseries, its agriculture continues to boom. The United States Department of Agriculture just released its 2012 report, confirming that Florida’s agriculture is going and growing strong.

What’s Included in the Census of Agriculture

The census, taken every 5 years, is released to shed light on the state of American agriculture. Tracking the number of farmers, farmer demographics, farms, farmland, and value of ag products, this government conducted survey provides a revealing agricultural snapshot.

The preliminary findings suggest that American agriculture, as a whole, has experienced a promising boom, with market values of crops, livestock, and total ag products reaching record highs (though the number of farms is down). While the country saw a decline in farm numbers, Florida and other states saw the opposite.

The survey reveals that Florida agriculture remains an economic engine and job creator, with an increase in farmers, farms, farmland, and minority-operated farms since the last census back in 2007. The census shows that the number of farms in Florida has remained fairly steady (approx. 47,000) with the average age of farmers moving upward.

USDA 2012 Ag Census Findings in Florida:

  • 9,548,342 acres of land in farms, up from 9,231,570 in 2007;
  • 47,740 farm operations, up from 47,463 in 2007;
  • $161,368 is the average sales per farm, down from $164,027 in 2007;
  • 200 acres is the average farm size, up from 195 in 2007; and
  • $7.70 billion in value of products sold, down from $7.78 billion in 2007.

Overall, the findings look promising for Florida. Let’s hope this trend of expansion continues. In order for it to do so, however, Florida needs to start recruiting younger farmers to get in on the ag action.

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