Agriculture positively impacts Pike County & Alabama

Published 11:00 pm Friday, June 28, 2013

Agriculture, forestry and related industries are big business in Pike County and all across Alabama, according to data released this week by Auburn University and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

In 2010, those industries provided 4,138 jobs in Pike County and had a total dollar impact of $539.1 million.

Agriculture, forestry and related industries contributed $70.4 billion to Alabama’s economy in 2010, accounting for almost 40 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employing 580,295 people, 22 percent of the state’s workforce.

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“We all know that agriculture and forestry play a huge role in the economy of Pike County,” said Grant Lyons, Pike County Extension coordinator. “But, we probably don’t realize the full impact until we see the numbers. Agriculture and forestry are big business in Alabama and in Pike County.”

In 2010, $153.8 million was generated through Pike County’s agricultural and forestry production sector with poultry and egg production the largest agricultural commodity, contributing 62.1 percent of the county’s total agricultural and forestry production.

“As farms have diversified, more producers have added poultry to their farming operations,” Lyons said. “The weather is a factor in any farming operation but producers do have some control in the poultry industry and that eliminates some of the risk.

“And, poultry farms require less acreage. A producer can put six poultry houses on a few acres where a row crop farmer would need hundreds of acres. So, a producer can go into poultry farming or diversify without having to acquire or utilize a large amount of land.”

Pike County’s second largest commodity in 2010 was cattle, which contributed 5.4 percent with peanuts third with 2.6 percent.

Poultry and eggs production added $95.5 million to the economy and provided 505 jobs. The cattle industry added another $8.3 million and provided 105 jobs. Peanuts contributed $4 million and 36 jobs to the economy.

“Overall, Pike County’s agricultural, forestry and related industries generated 4,138 full and part-time jobs, representing 23.3 percent of the county’s total workforce of 17,737 jobs,” Lyons said. “What many people probably don’t know is that Pike County’s total land area is 429,459 acres and 179,377 acres of that is farmland.

“In 2010, timberland accounted for 71 percent of the surface land area of Pike County. Forestry production contributed 15.2 percent of the county’s total agricultural and forestry production.”

Lyons said that even though the number of family farms is continually decreasing, Pike County still has 709 farms.

“Pike County is considered a rural county and we are fortunate that agriculture, forestry and related industries continue to positively impact the local economy at nearly 20 percent of the county’s total economic activity of $2.7 billion,” he said.

The information about the impact of the state’s agriculture, forestry and related industries was made available as a result of a collaborative effort of the Alabama Agribusiness Council, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Auburn University and others businesses and organizations. Agricultural and forestry economic data was collected from all Alabama counties. The report was released this week and was based on studies done in 2010.