Agriculture continues to be a vital mainstay of Hillsborough County’s economy, as shown by the 2011 agriculture sales and acreage estimates released this week by the Hillsborough County Agriculture Industry Development Program and Hillsborough County Extension Service.
According to the data, the 2011 sales estimate of Hillsborough County agriculture products is $832 million, up $16 million from 2010. Hillsborough County has 2,843 farms, which is the second largest number of farms of any county in the state of Florida.
Hillsborough County covers more than 1,000 square miles, and 255,532 acres of that (39 percent) is used for agriculture production.
Hillsborough ranks as the 4th largest producer of agricultural products in the state, and 59th out of 3,076 counties in the United States.
Strawberries continue to be the highest sales crop at $388,125,702, which is almost 47 percent of the County’s total agricultural sales. Hillsborough produces 90 percent of the strawberries grown in Florida, and nearly 11 percent of the strawberries grown in the nation. Hillsborough also produces 14 percent of Florida’s tomatoes, and 5 percent of the tomatoes grown in the U.S.
The next highest sales crops after strawberries are:
· Vegetables production at second with $150,000,000 with 18 percent of annual sales.
· Ornamental plants at third with $139,232,407 accounting for 16.7 percent of annual sales.
· Aquaculture at fourth with $23,546,112 and 2.8 percent of annual sales.
· Beef cattle/pasture at fifth with $18,934,207 and 2.2 percent of annual sales.
Local agriculture sales support the local economy through related businesses such as banking, real estate, transportation, packaging, equipment, seed, agricultural suppliers and services, and marketing firms.