Georgia may be known as the peach state, but as the 2012 Census of Agriculture results showed, in reality we are ranked 3rd in total peach acreage. The census results also showed, that just like our agricultural producers, Georgia agriculture is very diverse.
In addition to harvesting thousands of acres of peaches, Georgia farmers also now lead the United States when it comes to chickens. When I say ‘chickens’, I mean ‘broilers and other meat type chickens’, which is what you buy when you purchase chicken at the local grocery store, or what you eat when you get a chicken sandwich at your favorite fast food restaurant. When it comes to these birds, Georgia had more than 235 million, more than in any other state. Poultry producers sold 1.37 billion broilers in 2012. That is more than 4 chickens for every man, women and child in the country, based on 2010 Population Census numbers.
At nearly $4.3 billion, Georgia farmers are leading the nation in poultry and egg sales. And that’s not all when it comes to poultry. Georgia also boasts the largest quail flock in the United States with nearly 1.3 million birds.
Georgia farmers excel in crop production as well. In 2012, we had nearly 1.3 million acres of farmland dedicated to cotton production, second only to Texas. We are the top peanut producing state in the United States with nearly 732,000 acres dedicated to this important crop. To top it all off, we are also the top producer of pecans in the world.
On the operator side, we are seeing more diversity among Georgia farmers. According to the 2012 Census results, the proportion of our farmers who are Black, Asian, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, or of Hispanic origin has increased over the past 5 years, since the 2007 Census. And our farmers continue to innovate their industry. In 2012, there were 90 organic farms in Georgia along with 343 farms that produced their own on-farm renewable energy, mostly using solar panels.
Interestingly, while the average age of our farmers is 59.9 years, which is slightly older than the national average, we have a good number of new entrants in agriculture. More than 4,000 Georgia operators are under the age of 35 and nearly 20 percent of our principal operators have been operating any farm less than 10 years.
These facts just skim the surface of agriculture in our great state. The 2012 Census of Agriculture provides a plethora of information, so check out the entire Georgia volume to learn about our farmers and ranchers.