Whether it be by land or sea, Alabama produces top-quality agricultural products. With 67 counties and 9 million acres of farmland, the Yellowhammer State is a national leader in livestock, crops, forestry and aquaculture.
Agriculture, forestry and related industries are the second-largest employer in the state, employing roughly one out of every four Alabamians. In addition, these industries have a $70.4 billion economic impact and employ 580,295 Alabamians annually. Jobs related to agriculture and forestry include manufacturing, processing and transportation.
Livestock tops Alabama’s commodity chart. Ranked No. 4 in the United States for poultry and eggs, Alabama-raised broilers, chicken eggs and chicken meat have an economic impact of $15.1 billion and generate 86,237 jobs. Cattle and calves rank second in Alabama, with hog production coming in at No. 10.
Alabama soils are particularly good for growing peanuts. In fact, approximately half of the peanuts grown in the United States originate within 100 miles of Dothan, Ala. In 2012, peanut farmers harvested 219,000 acres of peanuts, producing 876 million pounds. This harvest provided employment for an additional 3,500 full-time employees.
Not to be outdone by crops and livestock, aquaculture contributes significantly to Alabama’s economy. Ranking second in the nation, Alabama’s aquaculture industry produces catfish, tilapia, shrimp, crawfish, and ornamental and game fish. The most significant product of Alabama’s aquaculture industry, catfish, generates $158.2 million and 5,829 jobs. The state has 18,000 acres of fish ponds, as well as offshore operations on the Gulf Coast.
Forestry is a major money-maker in Alabama. Ranked third in the nation, timberland covers 68 percent of the state, or 22.9 million acres. Loblolly and Shortleaf pine are the predominant trees, covering 38 percent of the timberland. This industry generates $21.4 billion annually and employs 122,020 Alabamians. Forestry planting, harvesting, manufacturing and processing also offer ample employment opportunities.
With such diverse agriculture, it is no wonder Alabama ranks among the country’s top producers of numerous commodities and exports. This important part of the state and national economy continues to flourish like the crops in Alabama’s fertile soil.