Agriculture is consistently one of the three strongest sectors of Florida’s economy and serves as a stabilizing contributor to gross state product during cyclical downturns in the other major economic sectors. In 2016, Florida’s vegetable production alone generated $1.34 billion in gross sales, the second highest sales in the nation. Florida is the leading state for planted acres and value in tomatoes, snap beans, watermelons, and cucumbers.
Southeast Florida is unlike any other growing area in the nation. A unique set of climate conditions allows for the production of more than 250 different crops, including temperate crops in the winter and tropical and subtropical crops year-round. The region contributes to the food security of the nation by supplying the entire East Coast with winter produce, and there is ample local market potential for common and ethnic crops. The use of local produce also reduces reliance on imported products and increases food security. Properly managed agricultural land may also reduce the urban heat island effect and provide wildlife habitat.
Despite its relative stability, the agriculture sector faces challenges ranging from the constant bombardment of new invasive pests and diseases to frequent and increasingly intense natural disasters. Changes in prevailing rainfall patterns and increasing average temperatures may also adversely affect crop productivity.
These recommendations support the agricultural community’s commitment to sustainability and the economic viability of regional agriculture, which will allow farmers to continue to provide food for the region’s residents, as well as the nation.