Alabama’s Agriculture, Agribusiness, Forestry, and Forest Products Industries in 2014

Agriculture, agribusiness, forestry, and forest products industries are Alabama’s number one economic sector generating $70.4 billion dollars (40% of Alabama’s gross state product) and employing nearly 580,295 residents. These industries generate 10 jobs per $1 million in direct sales.

Alabama agriculture and forestry related industries have become the state’s number one industry as the result of a favorable climate, fertile soils, and plentiful water resources combined with the strong work ethic and management skills of landowners and business entrepreneurs. Alabama’s favorable tax policies and limited governmental intrusion have created an environment that has allowed agriculture, agribusiness, forestry, and the forest products industries to successfully build their businesses.

The sales of agricultural commodities represent $4.7 billion annually. The poultry industry is the largest commodity sector with 65.6% of Alabama’s agricultural commodity sales. The cattle and green industries follow poultry as the next two largest agricultural industries in the state. The diversity of agriculture in Alabama is reflected in the 15 major commodity groups comprising the agriculture sector. This diversity creates future opportunities. The combined leadership of Alabama’s agricultural commodity groups is outstanding and unity among them has positioned the industry for future growth.

The sales of forestry and forest products in 2010 were $11.2 billion annually. Forest products were responsible for $10.2 billion in annual sales while commercial logging contributed $805.8 million per year in sales. Paper and paper board mills represent $6.4 billion in annual forest product sales (57.2% of total forestry and forest products sales).

The website alabamaAgImpact.com details the economic impact of agriculture, agribusiness, forestry, and forest products industries in Alabama, in each county, and in each congressional district. These data serve as a benchmark to establish future goals and assess growth in economic vitality and employment.

Potential for Future Growth

The nexus of a growing global population, growth in the global middle class, a global trend to protein-rich diets, increased global demand for bio-based energy sources, and an increase in residential and business construction, combined with Alabama’s strong forestry, forest products, and animal protein industries position Alabama well for continued economic and employment growth. Alabama’s surface, river, and port transportation options provide Alabama producers and value-added product companies easy access to marketing alternatives generally not available to businesses elsewhere in the United States.

The collegial culture that exists among agriculture, agribusiness, forestry, and forest products professionals in Alabama is second to none and results in synergistic business and public policy relationships within the industries. The three Agricultural Experiment Stations and an Extension network are dedicated to the economic growth of Alabama’s agriculture, agribusiness, forestry, and forest products industries. Alabama’s workforce has a strong work ethic, is well educated, and possesses the technical skills required by a spectrum of businesses associated with agriculture, agribusiness, forestry, and forest products industries. A favorable tax environment in Alabama has permitted individuals and companies to prosper and invest in future expansion.

Alabama Research and Development Assets

Alabama is blessed with three land grant universities (Alabama A&M, Auburn, Tuskegee Universities) that have the common mission of teaching, research, and Extension to enhance the economy and quality of life for Alabamians. They are the primary research/development vehicle for Alabama’s agriculture, agribusiness, forestry, and forest products industries. The three institutions prepare a common annual plan of work that capitalizes upon their individual strengths and the synergistic strength of their collaboration.

In addition to public research institutions, Alabama is the home of world-class private research organizations that are developing new technologies and commercial products for agriculture and the forest products industries. Alabama has actively recruited agricultural and forestry focused research businesses. The combined strength of public and private researchers working in concert and independently, positions Alabama as an early adopter of emerging technologies.