Growing farm economy is good news for state

Published 9:42 pm Wednesday, May 7, 2014

We’ve said it before and likely will say it again: Agriculture is good for Alabama and Pike County.
That’s not surprising news to folks here in Pike County, as agriculture plays a significant role in our economy.
And the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2012 Alabama Agricultural Census, which was just released, reaffirms the importance of farming and agriculture on our state’s economy.
Just consider these facts, highlighted this week by Ag Commissioner John McMillan:
• Both Alabama sales and production expenses reached record highs in 2012. Alabama producers sold $5.57 billion worth of agricultural products, but it cost them $4.7 billion to produce these products.
• Poultry and eggs contributed 85.2 percent of the total livestock, poultry and products sold in Alabama.
• In Alabama, 3.4 percent of farms earning $1.0 million or more accounted for nearly 63 percent of the value of sales for Alabama products. Farms with less than $1,000 in sales accounted for 32 percent of Alabama farms.
• Alabama is second in the United States for broilers sold, quail inventory and pounds of peanuts produced.
• Ninety-one percent of all Alabama farms are operated by families or individuals.
• 2,196 Alabama farm operators reported selling products directly to consumers. In 2012, these sales totaled almost $9.2 million (up 10.3 percent from 2007).
• Alabama Farms with Internet access rose from 50.2 percent in 2007 to 64.6 percent in 2012.
• 371 Alabama farms produced on-farm renewable energy, up 15 percent from 2007.
• 4,097 farms covering over 1.0 million acres were farmed with conservation tillage or no-till practices.
As McMillan points out in his statement, agriculture continued thrive and grow even as the state and nation weathered an economic downtown.
Being able to balance the conservation and stewardship of the plentiful resources we have here in Alabama with the changing demands for food, crops and forestry products will be critical to how much we are able to sustain and grow that economic base in upcoming years.
As our state continues to find its niche in the global marketplace in the 21st century, there is no doubt that farming, timber and agribusiness will be a significant factor in establishing our identity.
And that’s good news for us right here in Pike County.

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