10 Florida Ag Facts to Know
Think you know all there is to know about Florida agriculture? Think again. The factoids below are taken from the annual publication “Fresh from Florida: The Journal of Florida Agriculture,” which published its latest edition in late 2014. The magazine, from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, touts the state’s $108 billion agriculture industry. (And this article is modified from its original appearance in the Central Florida Agri-Leader; see link below.)
OK, now on to the Florida ag trivia:
1. Among all states, Florida ranked number one in 2012 for the production of oranges (duh), sugarcane, fresh market tomatoes, grapefruit, sweet corn, fresh market snap beans, watermelon, fresh market cucumbers, and squash.
2. As other states in the U.S. hunker down for winter’s chill, our agriculture bounty is just revving up to feed much of the nation. “Florida growers provide fresh fruits and vegetables for all states east of the Mississippi River during the winter months,” according to the magazine.
3. If you live in Central Florida, this next fact is probably not surprising—elsewhere around the state, you may find this more of a shock. Florida is home to four of the 10 largest beef cow-calf ranches in the U.S. One of those herds is operated by the Seminole tribe, which manages the country’s fifth-largest cow-calf business. The tribe has nearly 14,000 Brangus cattle, most of them near Lake Okeechobee on the Brighton Seminole Reservation.
4. Florida promotes recipes made with “Fresh from Florida” ingredients on the website http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Recipes/. Some current finds on the site include Florida tomato linguine sauté, Florida grouper sandwich with new potato salad, creamy bacon-mushroom shrimp and grits, zucchini chips, and Florida tropical mango soup. The state also has a recent initiative for restaurants to use the Fresh from Florida logo, so restaurants can show that they support the state’s growers and fresh local products.
5. Florida has four different soil types: clay, mostly in the state’s Panhandle and good for growing trees; sand, called “myakka,” which is found where much of the state’s citrus, fruit, and vegetable production occurs; muck, found mostly on the east coast and can also grow oranges and tomatoes well; and coral, found in South Florida.
6. If you enjoy a recipe made with peanut butter anytime soon, you may want to thank a Florida farmer. Farmers in the state grew 780 million pounds of peanuts in 2012. Those peanuts were used to make peanut butter.
7. Florida has more than 123,000 dairy cows, producing about 272 million gallons of milk in 2012.
8. The top five seafood harvesting areas in the state are the Florida Keys, Jacksonville, St. Petersburg/Tampa, Bradenton, and Fort Myers. Nearly 85 percent of the U.S. supply of grouper, pompano, mullet, stone crab, pink shrimp, spiny lobsters, and Spanish mackerel comes from within the state.
9. The Florida apiculture (beekeeping) business has grown at a fast clip the past several years. In 2013, the state shipped bees to 27 states for crop pollination, including 333 semitruck loads of bees shipped to California to pollinate its almond crops. The University of Florida even has an annual Bee College, a two-day symposium open to those interested in the honey bee industry. The next Bee College will take place March 6-7, 2015, in St. Augustine, according the program’s website.
10. With our focus on food, it’s easy to forget other non-food agricultural business in the state, including forests, horticulture, and horses. Regarding horses, there are 13,755 horse farms in the state that are home to 122,000 horses. The state’s Thoroughbred racing industry creates $400 million in wages and benefits in the state and supports more than 12,000 jobs. Much of this, er, horsing around, takes place in Ocala, also known as the “Horse Capital of the World.”
Read articles from the magazine online at http://www.FL-agriculture.com