Agriculture Helps Keep Volusia Economy in the Green

Agriculture Puts a Bloom on Economy

Agriculture is more than vegetable crops and feed, and Volusia County is a perfect example.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2022 Census of Agriculture, the county’s 1,374 farms produce a range of commodities, from potatoes and vegetables to cattle, hogs and fruit from 121 orchards. Those agricultural operations produced a market value of more than $250 million.

“While agriculture is not a target industry for economic development recruitment or expansion efforts, agriculture absolutely contributes to the sustainability and diversification of our economy,” said Lou Paris, Volusia County director of economic development. “In 2022, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting contributed $11 million towards the county’s annual GDP.”

Paris said beyond farms and ranches, a wide variety of agricultural-related businesses operate in the county, including timber, aquaculture, sod farms, beekeeping operations, farmers markets, farm-to-table enterprises, nurseries and agritourism.

Volusia County Extension Service Director Kalan Taylor said while the 2022 USDA census report showed a nearly 13% decrease in the number of farms in the county, agriculture plays a critical role in protecting the natural resources in the region.

“This includes, but is not limited to, the following critical roles,” Taylor said. “Water management in the form of filtration and recharge groundwater supplies; carbon sequestration through the capture of carbon dioxide; and acting as a buffer zone to protect more sensitive ecosystems and provide wildlife corridors.”

Both Taylor and Paris highlighted the county’s annual Farm Tour as evidence of the ongoing importance of agriculture.

According to Taylor, the event “offers a glimpse into the variety and innovation within the local agricultural section” and features a variety of agricultural enterprises “from aquaculture facilities and organic farms to breweries and tea companies that rely on agriculture for their production.”

Paris said there is a new event that will also shine a spotlight on the county’s agricultural industries.

“The Taste of Volusia is a great opportunity to connect with local farmers and ranchers while enjoying samples from the farming community,” he said. “The event is presented by the Volusia County Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Program.”

Paris said this year’s Taste of Volusia takes place March 23 from 6-9 p.m. in the Tommy Lawrence Arena at the Volusia County Fairgrounds.

According to a USDA release announcing the publication of the 2022 Census of Agriculture, the report “provides a detailed picture of U.S. farms and ranches” and is “the leading source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county or county equivalent.”

The history of collecting data on U.S. agriculture dates back as far as President George Washington, who kept meticulous statistical records describing his own and other farms. In 1791, President Washington wrote to farmers requesting information on land values, crop acreages, crop yields, livestock prices, and taxes.

The 2022 Census of Agriculture is the 30th Federal census of agriculture and the sixth conducted by the USDA. The U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census conducted the census of agriculture for 156 years from 1840 to 1996.