The recent release of the 2017 Census of Agriculture provides an opportunity to remind the general public about the importance and diversity of U.S. agriculture – and Texas is no exception! The Lone Star State ranks first in the nation for total number of farms with just over 248,000, which account for more than 127 million acres of agricultural land (managing almost 74 percent of the state’s 268,581 square miles). Texas agriculture contributed nearly $25 billion to the economy in products sold in 2017.
Texas agriculture continues to show its importance as a lead-commodity producing state. Of course, nearly half the value of market products sold in Texas during 2017 belonged to the Cattle and Calf sector, contributing nearly $12.3 billion in sales. The second ranked category was Poultry and Eggs, which contributed nearly $3 billion in sales, with the Cotton and Cottonseed sector rounding out the third rank for sales.
The 2017 Census of Agriculture, however, is not all about traditional crops and livestock. The census results presented a 151 percent increase in the number of operations with honey sales in 2017, and a near double number of farms with olive bearing acres. Speaking of unique agriculture, Texas is No.1 for specialty operations with sales of deer, ducks, geese, quail, and emus!
The average age of all Texas producers has crept up to 59.2 years old, which is 1.7 years higher than the national average. However, Texas has a 2 percent higher margin over that of the U.S. when comparing the New and Beginning Producers as a percent of All Producers. In addition, the percent of Texas producers with military service as a percent of All Producers is two percent higher than that same ratio at the U.S. level.
The next time you sit down for breakfast, lunch, or dinner to enjoy a nice plate of livestock protein, fresh veggies, or a fruit-filled dessert – thank your local producer. I know I sure do! A big thank you to all the producers for their responses to the census, which helped paint this portrait of Texas agriculture. For more details about U.S. and Texas agriculture, visit www.nass.usda.gov/AgCensus.