Why Is Florida’s Agricultural Industry in Decline?

Florida agribusiness riskThe South Florida agriculture industry is struggling to maintain its foothold in the region. Several factors have caused the ongoing troubles for these farmers. For one, the area known as the Everglades in southernmost Florida is in a constant state of restoration. Natural disasters, drought, and more ravaged the area, making much of it not suitable for farming.

Booming South Florida Real Estate at Odds with Farmlands

Another force sending the industry into a decline is the rapidly expanding development of South Florida. Many real estate investors are gobbling up available land and farms are shrinking. Some farms are experiencing massive downsizing of crops, dropping from 20,000 acres to as few as 4000 for plants like tomatoes. What was once a major source of profits is now a small player for many South Florida farmers.

Economic Competition and Disease Strains Struggling South Florida Market

Economic issues also put pressure on South Florida. With limited freshwater and shrinking acreage due to urban development, there is also hefty competition from nearby Mexico. Pests and diseases also take their toll on the crops in South Florida. Citrus plants, avocadoes, and other crops saw massive losses due to disease and devastating pests.

In the past twenty years, the Miami-Dade county alone has seen a 45% reduction in cropland as well as an 18% slash to fruit and nut lands. While the most recent decade has seen a retention of farmland, their purpose has shifted dramatically. Instead of fruits and vegetables, more South Florida farmers are using their lands to raise poultry, stable horses, or operate as plant nurseries.

Innovative Farmers Most Likely to Beat the Odds

This kind of ingenuity is what allows South Florida farmers to hang on in an increasingly challenging to navigate industry. Versatility and the ability to pivot with a fluctuating industry are critical skills for South Florida farmers who want to succeed. To learn more about managing the numerous risks facing Florida farmers, contact the experts at MMA Florida.