Georgia has 9.9 million acres of farmland, with a farm size of 235 acres on average. Georgia has over 42,000 individual farms in 2017, and the state's farmers sold more than $9.5 billion in agricultural products. Georgia is the nation's leading producer of apples, peaches, pears, sweet potatoes, hay, tobacco, and poultry.
Farmland in Georgia is used for growing corn, wheat, soybeans, cotton, and vegetables. The state's fruit orchards are found in coastal areas near Atlanta where the soil is well-drained. Grape production accounts for nearly one-third of all Georgia agriculture. Tobacco farming continues to be important in southern Georgia, but acreage has declined since 2005 when it was about 600,000 acres.
Approximately 2% of Georgia's land is owned by non-farmers, mostly businesses. Another 7% is protected federal land such as national parks and forests. The remaining 91% is owned by individuals who farm or ranch them. Of the total number of farms, only half are family operated businesses and the other half are managed by corporations or individuals who hire staff members during seasonally low periods of activity.
In 2017, the median farm income was $77,293. Farmers can make more than $200,000 if they own their own business or work for companies that sell insurance policies to farmers, for example.
Agriculture provides roughly $73.3 billion to Georgia's economy each year, according to the UGA Center for Agribusiness & Economic Development. The state's overall farm gate value in 2016 was $13.75 billion. One in every seven Georgians is employed in agriculture, forestry, or a related profession. In fact, agriculture is the largest industry in a number of counties across the state.
In addition to being one of the largest employers in Georgia, agriculture plays an important role in preserving our environment. Farming practices such as conservation tillage and cover crops help reduce soil erosion and protect water quality. Additionally, farmers use fewer pesticides than most other industries, contributing to lower pesticide levels in our food supply. Finally, farming is one of the most sustainable methods of transportation fuel production; between 2000 and 2015, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions reduced by using agricultural products instead of petroleum products was greater than that eliminated by all forms of transportation combined.
There are challenges facing agriculture in today's market. Low commodity prices have caused trouble for farmers who depend on this income stream. At the same time, there are fewer people working in agriculture than there were several years ago. If you're interested in learning more about how agriculture affects Georgia's workforce, check out the links below.
Georgia contains about eight million acres (32,000 km2) of ideal agriculture, with pine woods covering more than 60% of the area. Georgia contains 70,150 miles (112,900 km) of streams and rivers, 425,000 acres (1,720 km2) of lakes, and 4,500,000 acres (18,000 km2) of freshwater wetlands. The total area is 825,200 acres (3,400 km2).
The state's name comes from the Georgians, a people who lived here before the arrival of Europeans. The first known European to arrive in what is now Georgia was Gaspar de Portola, an Italian navigator who landed near present-day Savannah in 1526. Spanish colonists built fortifications at four major sites within the current boundaries of Georgia: St Augustine's Fort on Anastasia Island, Santa Rosa Island, Thomas' Point on the coast south of Atlanta, and Moultrie Creek Guard Station near the present-town of Moultrie.
European traders had been visiting the region for several years before the arrival of the colonists. British settlers arrived first, followed by Americans. Today, most Georgians are United States citizens but many also identify as being part of the large African American community or as Native Americans. Georgia is the 29th largest state in the United States.
Geographically, Georgia is a southern bulge of North America, located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.
Georgia's pasture average value in 2018 was $3,650 per acre, unchanged from the previous year. In 2018, the average rent for irrigated farmland in Georgia was $190 per acre, down from $200 per acre in 2017. In 2018, non-irrigated land rent averaged $65 per acre, the same as in 2017. Farmland is rented out long term by owners who need to make a living off their crops annually.
In 2017, rural Georgia accounted for 19 percent of the state's GDP. Of that, farming contributed $1.5 billion and employed about 70,000 people. The number of farms in Georgia has declined since 2004 when there were nearly 18 million acres of farmland in the state. Today, there are only about 16 million acres, indicating that more than a million acres have been sold or transferred into other ownership types since 2004.
Land in Georgia is used for growing corn, cotton, soybeans, wheat, and other products. Rural counties are important centers of agriculture in Georgia. They typically have a smaller population than other counties, but they often have large agricultural industries due to their proximity to major crop production areas and market hubs like Atlanta.
Farmland is also important for providing wildlife habitat. About one third of Georgia's land is considered prime birding habitat, and many species can be found on farms in rural areas. Migratory birds use these forests and fields as stopovers on their way to warmer climates during winter months.