Florida’s agriculture-related employment up 8.7 percent

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About 1.52 million people worked full- or part-time in Florida’s agriculture, natural resources and food industries in 2013, an 8.7 percent increase in jobs over 2012, according to a new UF/IFAS economic report.

That figure accounts for 14.3 percent of the state’s workforce, and reflects a 19.7 percent employment increase since 2001, or just under 1 percent annually, according to the report, led by UF/IFAS Extension Scientist Alan Hodges.

“That’s pretty good economic growth in anybody’s book,” said Hodges, a faculty member in food and resource economics.

Agriculture, natural resources and their related industries in the state account for $148.5 billion in sales revenue, the report said. Regional multiplier effects add 633,942 jobs and $83.64 billion to agriculture’s impact on Florida’s economy.

“It’s new money from outside sources that’s circulating in Florida’s economy,” Hodges said. The value-added impacts represent 15.4 percent of the state’s Gross Domestic Product.

Many other industries count on agricultural and food products and services, according to the annual report that can be found at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fe969. The report reflects data from 2013, the latest year for which figures are available.

“We argue that there’s a relationship between what happens on the farm and what happens in the food distribution system. So it makes sense to talk about those things together,” Hodges said. “Agriculture, natural resources and related food industries remain a significant force in the economy of Florida, and it is important to recognize the economic contributions of these industries to ensure informed public policy.”

At nearly $9 billion in industry output impacts, forestry and forest product manufacturing make up the biggest commodity sector of Florida’s agricultural economy. Next is environmental horticulture – the nursery, greenhouse and landscaping industries – and third is fruits and vegetables, including citrus.

“The forest products industry is pretty strongly tied to the construction sector through demand for lumber and other building products” Hodges said. “Housing starts is a leading indicator. Most homes are still framed with wood.”

Forest products also lead Florida’s agricultural exports, with $6.14 billion, according to the annual report, while fruits and vegetables ($3.72 billion) came in second and environmental horticulture ($3.54 billion) was third.

Many people do not realize the impact of agriculture and food industries on Florida’s economy, Hodges said.

“It’s a heck of a lot bigger than most people think,” he said. “In terms of employment, it is actually the biggest employer in the state.”

Caption: About 1.52 million people worked full- or part-time in Florida’s agriculture, natural resources and food industries in 2013, an 8.7 percent increase in jobs over 2012, according to a new UF/IFAS economic report. Agriculture, natural resources and their related industries in the state account for $148.5 billion in sales revenue, the report said. Regional multiplier effects add 633,942 jobs and $83.64 billion to agriculture’s impact on Florida’s economy.

Credit: UF/IFAS file

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