The thing most people think about when they think ‘Florida’ is that we are the Sunshine State and this is very true. However, there is so much more to Florida than a place where tourists can come throughout the winter months to avoid huge snowfalls and freezing weather. As a resident of sunny South Florida, did you know that agriculture is a huge part of our economy? Tourism by some estimates is the number one driver to the economy, but is it really? Let’s take a quick look at what agriculture does for our state, according to Cielo Gonzalez Villa, so that you have an appreciation for this sunny paradise you call home.

Tourism vs. Agriculture – A Look at Real Numbers

Of course most coastal communities throughout the Sunshine State love to promote tourism because that is what keeps them in funds. However, what about interior regions of the state like Davie here in South Florida? Did you know that tourism employs approximately 1.1 million people while agriculture provides jobs for over 2 million? Wouldn’t you say that makes agriculture a much bigger industry as far as drivers to the economy? Then there is annual revenue brought into the state. Tourism accounts for what is estimated as $51 million towards the state’s GDP while agriculture comes in at over $1 billion. That’s a heap more money than $51 million.

Leading Cash Crops in Florida

According to the Florida Department Of Agriculture, citrus (believe it or not) is only a part of what drives the economy from agriculture. Yes, oranges and grapefruit come in first and second accounting for 60% and 58% of the nation’s total yield annually, but those are only two of the top ten cash crops which include:

  1. Oranges – $1.17 Billion
  2. Grapefruit – $117 million
  3. Sugarcane – $515 million
  4. Cucumbers – $64.4 million
  5. Tomatoes – $453 million
  6. Snap beans – $76.3 million
  7. Bell peppers – $220 million
  8. Sweet corn – $155 million
  9. Watermelon – $88.2 million
  10. Squash – $27.5 million

That’s the value of these crops on an annual basis as tallied in the Florida Agricultural Statistics Service, FASS, in 2015. Those numbers are probably a bit up by 2017 but they show you just how important agriculture is to our economy.

Technology that Will Only Make Things Better!

Recent advances in agricultural technology can help to improve the yield of crops by a significant amount. By some estimates, the right technology can increase yields up to 33% and in some instances higher. One company that is noted for amazingly hi-tech manufacturing and delivery of nutrients has a website where you can learn about how the delivery of nutrients is vital to healthier and larger cash crops. Check out websites to get an idea of just how important it is to deliver nutrients and water evenly for a larger-than-normal crop. Aqua-Yield has a local distributor serving South Florida. With excellent knowledge with this technology, everyone is pleased to serve the Floridian grower.

So then, when we hear that Fort Lauderdale and South Florida is an important part of the economy of the Sunshine State because of all the visitors we see each year, keep the farmers to our west and north in mind. They bring in money that keeps our state going and contributes greatly to the food supply chain throughout the whole country. That’s something to be really, really proud of. Thank a farmer today!