The wide open spaces of the Lone Star State are the perfect setting for the 130 million acres of picturesque land that’s used for Texas farming and ranching operations. The sky is blue, and the land is both breathtaking and productive. In 2012, Texas generated $25.37 billion in total agricultural sales. As one of the leading agricultural industries in the country, it’s no surprise that everything is truly bigger and better in Texas.
Agriculture is a lifeline in Texas, providing revenue for the state and nation, as well as employing one out of seven working Texans. Texas ranked No. 6 in the nation for total agricultural exports in 2012 and leads the nation in the production of cattle, cotton, hay, sheep, goats and mohair. The second-largest resource-based industry in the state, Texas agriculture is as all-encompassing as it comes, ranging from forestry to livestock, crops to aquaculture.
While Texas is famous for cowboys and the 10.9 million head of cattle that accompany them, Texas agriculture has so much more to offer. A blossoming wine industry has led to the planting of more than 7,000 acres of grapes and spurred a viable form of agritourism. Crops like grapefruits, peaches and pecans flourish in orchards and add valuable diversity to the agriculture industry. Unlike most of the country, the number of farms in Texas continues to rise. There were more than 248,800 farms and ranches in 2012, up more than 20,000 from the 228,173 farms present in 1997.
While the average age of Texas producers is 58, agricultural education opportunities at schools and universities are encouraging younger Texans to pursue careers in agriculture and ag-related industries. Continuing education and technological innovation are transforming agriculture into a cutting-edge industry.
With 4.5 million acres of irrigated cropland, producers strive to use sustainable techniques to maintain the health of their surroundings. Approximately 3.2 million acres are enrolled in Conservation Reserve, Wetlands Reserve, Farmable Wetlands or Conservation Reserve Enhancement land programs. Crop rotation, conservation tillage and no-till practices are just a few methods being used by Texas farmers to care for the state’s natural resources.
Texas agriculture is a diverse industry, supported by responsible farming techniques that provides jobs, food, fiber and fuel to the state and U.S.