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General Information about Alabama Agriculture

Agriculture in Alabama

The economy of Alabama is buoyed by two industries – agriculture and forestry. In fact, agriculture is responsible for about $70.4 billion of the Yellowhammer State’s annual revenue. When you sit on soil so rich, maximizing this natural resource’s potential is what most of Alabamas citizens do best.

Agricultural history

Even before English settlers claimed Alabama, Native Americans have been planting a variety of crops using the slash-and-burn system for centuries. It was during Alabamas territorial period (1798-1819) when more sustainable farming methods were employed by settlers from Kentucky and Tennessee. Immigrants from Georgia and the Carolinas later discovered the dark, claylike consistency of soil in what’s now called the Black Belt Prairie region and saw that this was perfect for planting cotton.

From the onset of the Industrial Revolution that swept Europe up to the post-Civil War period, cotton was the main produce in Alabama. This drastically changed when a severe infestation of the Mexican boll weevil destroyed whole swaths of cotton crops. Farmers had to diversify their crops as a result, thus, the introduction of peanuts, citrus, peach, and pecan into the Alabama agricultural scene in as early as the post-World War II era.

Since then, the Yellowhammer State has grown by leaps and bounds, bolstered by the introduction of cattle and livestock in lands formerly dominated by cotton crops.

Alabama agriculture facts

Alabama boasts of having over 43,000 farms scattered over 8.9 million acres. It is the second-largest producer of catfish, broilers, and quail nationwide. It is also in third place overall for sod, forestland, and peanut production.  Most common of its agricultural products are poultry, soybeans, cotton, cattle and calves, greenhouses and nurseries.

In terms of timber acreage, the state ranks third after Georgia and Oregon. This is solid proof of Alabama’s strong showing in the forestry aspect.

Employment opportunities

Numerous farm-related jobs here are testimonies to the state’s agricultural prowess. These agriculture jobs in Alabama involve livestock production, poultry, and greenhouse maintenance, among many others. The numbers speak for themselves – out of 4.6 jobs, one of these is agriculture-related.

Impact on other industries

With Alabamas agriculture constituting the bulk of the state’s economy, it has made an impact on other industries. Now its no longer just about harvesting and livestock – agriculture in this state now touches technology, tourism, agribusiness, preservation of the land, and even education.

Several universities in Alabama have whole programs dedicated to the study of agriculture. And while initially thought of as a man’s job, more female Alabama students are taking an interest in agriculture courses.

Growth of agritourism

Some Alabama farms no longer simply just plant crops and raises livestock – now they’re opening their doors to the public and showing them a day in the life of the average farmer.

Farms like Ozan Vineyard Winery and Lazenby Farms are some of the two most popular farms that have successfully integrated the agritourism model into their farm business. This approach appeals even to the younger set of Americans and has transformed the humble trade of farming into an attractive career opportunity for todays generation.

From cotton to peanuts

After cotton production in Alabama relaxed in the aftermath of the boll weevil invasion, farmers here included peanuts in their diversification of crops. Now, these humble legumes are among Alabama’s agricultural products with the highest production and sales. Dothan, Alabama is responsible for around half of all peanuts being grown in the country. Around 400 million pounds of peanuts are produced here every year.

If you are taking an interest in living the life of an Alabama farmer, then we can show you the best lands the state has to offer. Contact us, the Bill Mackey Real Estate team, at 334.289.8470 or send an email to bill@billmackey.com.