Georgia agriculture contributes approximately $74.35 billion to the state’s economy each year and is an important job generator – one in every seven Georgians works in agriculture and related industries.
The state contains more than 42,000 farms spread across 9.6 million acres of land, with each farm averaging about 228 acres in size. Those hardworking farmers produce and raise some of the state’s top commodities, including broilers, beef, cotton, eggs, timber, peanuts and dairy products. And while the state greatly benefits, the country does as well, as Georgia is the nation’s top producer of peanuts, broilers, pecans, rye and spring onions. It’s also near the top for several specialty crops such as blueberries, watermelons, peaches, sweet corn, cantaloupes, cabbage and more.
Georgia’s forestry sector is important too, contributing $17.3 billion to the economy and supporting more than 73,000 jobs. The state has approximately 24.4 million acres of forestland, which is more than any other state in the U.S. But more than crops and commodities, Georgia producers are some of the most innovative and advanced. As the original conservationists, they’re focused on preserving the sanctity of the land, practicing good stewardship and participating in environmental efforts. They’re eager to try the latest technologies, making Georgia farms efficient and productive.
State universities, such as the University of Georgia, are pushing the envelope on ag research. Currently, the school is working to make peanuts more nutritious, drought tolerant and disease resistant.
And other programs are supporting agricultural education, too, such as the Mobile Dairy Classroom by the Agricultural Commodity Commission for Milk, the Feed My School program and Georgia FFA.
With these programs helping to shape the future generations of Georgia farmers, the state’s industry is poised for only more growth and success.
Taste Test Success
Thanks to a farm-to-fork taste test, Georgia students have a new, positive outlook on turnip greens.
Level Grove Elementary featured fresh turnip greens from Baker Farms in Norman Park in a taste test for students. Sautéed with onions and garlic powder and tossed in lemon juice, the fresh greens received an overwhelming seal of approval, with 49 percent of voters marking “Love It” and another 25 percent choosing “Like It.”
Some students even asked if the school could add turnip greens to the school garden, bringing the win-win full circle.
A Job Well-Done
Georgia crops and commodities are feeding the world, but there’s another extremely important sector of the state’s agriculture industry – agribusiness.
Supporting farmers and ranchers, companies including John Deere, Case IH and Kubota have a presence in Georgia, helping to stimulate the economy and create jobs.
For example, in late 2015, Ag-Pro Companies, a retailer of John Deere tractors, built a headquarters facility in Thomas County. It created a total of 50 new jobs and an economic investment of more than $7 million.
As the top industry in Georgia, agriculture offers lots of opportunities for value-added products and production of crops and commodities, leading to further opportunities for agribusinesses and, in turn, more jobs.
Crunchy, nutritious and tasty on their own as a snack or baked on top of a pie, Georgia pecans are a major contributor to the state’s economy.
Georgia is one of the nation’s top pecan producers, with more than 144,000 acres dedicated to growing the nut. In fact, Georgia produces about a third of the U.S. pecan supply. Several different varieties, including Sumner, Desirable, Caddo, Oconee, Ellis and more are grown in the state, with the major producing region being near Albany in south-central Georgia.
Pecans are harvested between October and December and can be sold in-shell and vacuum packed, among other forms.
Learn more about Georgia pecans and heart-healthy recipes at georgiapecan.org.