Alabama Agriculture

Agriculture in Alabama has changed through the centuries. Initially, when cotton was considered the King crop, the agricultural land in Alabama saw four million acres dedicated to planting cotton seeds. However, at this point, a total of 1.3 million acres of land is used for agricultural purposes in Alabama. Not many people in Alabama look at agriculture for complete and independent sustenance. It is usually carried out with a combination of other occupations to bring in extra income. And as per the 2005 survey, there were 43,500 farms on 8.6 million acres (averaging 198 acres per farm) that sold over $3.3 billion worth of commodities.  

The modern agricultural farmers of Alabama work on farms that stretch over 2000 acres of land with the help of highly skilled laborers. Some farmers practice crop rotation to improve the fertility of the soil and plant soy beans, peanuts along with cotton. Along with agriculture and crop production, many people in Alabama often raise livestock to further their incomes.

Although modern technology guarantees safe and a minimum percentage of crop production, many farmers in Alabama still resort to traditional methods of fertilizing their crops and maintaining the fertility of their soil. The farmers cover the soil with a cover crop layer of wheat, rye, clover or vetch after plowing the soil to reduce erosion. Farmers still leave as much plant residue as possible on the surface to protect the soil. Although they use chemicals to enhance the soil quality, some even use animal litter from the livestock they rear and use it to ensure the soil stays fertilized.

Every agricultural activity is very organized in Alabama. Many producers are part time farmers who are in contract with centralized companies that ensure meat production takes place on time. A typical farm family can produce up to 30,000 six pound chickens every six weeks in contract with companies. Some cattlemen rear cows and other cattle only so they can sell the off springs for a profit to the feedlots in Texas, Nebraska, and Colorado etc.

Agriculture is an important part of Alabama’s economy and even though it has significantly reduced in numbers, it plays a major part in maintaining a stable economy for the state.

Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries

Top 5 Agriculture Commodities, 2007
  Value of Receipts
Thousand $
Percent of State Total
Farm Receipts
Percent of US Value
1. Broilers 2,400,260 57.6 11.2
2. Cattle and Calves 431,410 10.4 0.9
3. Greenhouse / Nursery 340,390 8.2 2.0
4. Chicken Eggs 314,336 7.5 4.7
5. Cotton 141,784 3.4 2.3
All Commodities 4,166,254   1.5


Farm Income and Value Added Data
  2006 2007
Number of Farms 43,000 43,000

Thousands $

       Final Crop Output 777,434 773,704
+     Final Animal Output 2,994,974 3,318,319
+     Services and Forestry 946,209 957,393
=   Final Agricultural Sector Output 4,718,616 5,049,416
-      Intermediate Consumption Outlays 2,689,772 2,919,461
+     Net Government Transactions 170,877 125,465
=   Gross Value Added 2,199,722 2,255,421
-      Capital Consumption 396,097 411,459
=   Net Value Added 1,803,625 1,843,962
-    Factor Payments 400,956 406,151
         Employee Compensation (total hired labor) 178,682 185,487
         Net Rent Received by Nonoperator Landlords 57,214 43,202
         Real Estate and Nonreal Estate Interest 165,060 177,462
=   Net Farm Income 1,402,669 1,437,811