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.
|Top 5 Agriculture Commodities, 2007|
|Value of Receipts
|Percent of State Total
|Percent of US Value|
|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|
|Farm Income and Value Added Data|
|Number of Farms||43,000||43,000|
|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|