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Alabama Agricultural Census for 2012 Reveals Strong, Growing Farm Economy

Alabama’s farm economy appears to be on an upswing, setting a $5.57 billion record for agricultural goods produced by Alabama farm operators in 2012.

“I have been heartened by these economic growth numbers that translate into more well-paying jobs and opportunities for thousands of Alabama families.,” John McMillan, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, wrote Tuesday in an open letter to Alabama residents.

McMillan’s letter cites the release of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture for 2012 which he said “reveals a vibrant, growing and very profitable farm economy in Alabama.”

In fact, some 2,196 Alabama farm operators – 91 percent of which were family- or individually-owned operations – reported selling products directly to consumers that in 2012 totaled nearly $9.2 million, representing a 10.3 percent increase compared with 2007.

“The new census confirms our own economic impact survey published last year,” McMillan said.

That report, compiled by the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology at Auburn University based on 2010 farm data and released in February 2013, revealed agriculture, forestry and related industries have a $70.4 billion economic impact on Alabama and provide more than 580,000 jobs.

The federal report also revealed, however, that despite the state’s record production in 2012, Alabama farmers also spent a record $4.7 billion to produce it.

“Our next challenge remains developing our vast agricultural, forestry and agribusiness resources to meet burgeoning world demand for food and fiber while remaining good stewards of our land and water resources. Working together with leaders of our considerable industries that comprise over one-third of our economy and workforce, we can meet this challenge and build a remarkable future for all of Alabama,” McMillan wrote.

A few highlights from the Alabama Agricultural Census for 2012 are as follows:

  • 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 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.
  • Alabama farms with internet access increased from 50.2 percent in 2007 to 64.6 percent in 2012.
  • Some 371 Alabama farms produced on-farm renewable energy, representing a 15 percent increase compared with 2007.

4,097 farms covering more than one million acres were farmed with conservation tillage or no-till practices.

May 6, 2014

Kelli Dugan | By Kelli Dugan |

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