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    Food and Resource Economics Department

    Food and Resource Economics Department

Economic Contributions of Beef and Dairy Cattle and Allied Industries in Florida in 2017


The state of Florida has a long and colorful history of cattle ranching. Currently, there are over 5.4 million acres of improve pasture, rangeland, and woodland used for beef and dairy cattle production, representing 15.6 percent of the state’s land area. As of January, 2018, Florida had an inventory of 1.63 million cattle and calves, including 886,000 beef cows and 124,000 dairy cows. The top five Florida counties for beef and dairy cow inventory were Okeechobee (110,000), Highlands (75,500), Polk (60,600), Osceola (60,000) and Hardee (48,100). Production of cattle and calves in 2017, including a calf crop of 790,000 head, was valued at $502 million, and production of 2.5 billion pounds (300 million gallons) of milk was valued at $537 million. During the last Census of Agriculture in 2012, there were 18,433 beef cattle operations with inventory and 425 milk operations with inventory.

In addition to farm and ranch operations, the cattle industry has extensive allied sectors providing supporting inputs and services, meat and dairy processing/manufacturing, and wholesale and retail distribution. In 2017, there were 213 animal slaughtering/processing and dairy product manufacturing firms in Florida, with 5,338 employees, and paid annual wages of $224 million. Inputs and services for cattle production, including on-farm services, animal feed manufacturers, and food animal veterinarians, provided an estimated 3,193 jobs in the state, while livestock, beef, and dairy product wholesalers supported 4,491 jobs. Retail sales of beef and dairy products represented 16.9 percent of food store sales in Florida, valued at $6.40 billion, and accounted for 34,713 jobs. In 2017, Florida exported cattle, meat, and dairy products worth over one billion dollars to international markets.

This study analyzed the economic contributions of the beef and dairy cattle production and allied industries in the State of Florida and its counties in 2017 using secondary data on direct employment and survey data on capital expenditures, together with a regional economic model created with the IMPLAN© system. In 2017, the cattle and allied industry sectors directly employed 58,221 direct fulltime and part-time jobs, paid $2.00 billion in employee compensation and proprietor income, and received $8.26 billion in sales revenues. For all industry groups and activities, statewide economic contributions were 118,191 fulltime and part-time jobs, $16.80 billion in industry output or revenues, $7.65 billion in value added or Gross State Product, and $4.64 billion in labor income (employee wages, salaries, benefits, business owner income). In addition, the industries contributed $712 million in state and local government tax revenues and $1.16 billion in federal tax revenues.

In addition to commodity production and commercial services in the cattle and allied industries, pastures and rangelands in Florida support a variety of recreational activities for fishing, hunting, and wildlife viewing. Some large cattle ranches in Central and South Florida have partnered with the Water Management Districts to provide on-farm water storage and treatment as a low-cost option to enhance water quality and reduce flooding and pollutant loading on downstream water bodies. Other non-marketed ecosystem services provided by cattle farms and ranches include provision of wildlife habitat, maintenance of biodiversity, air and water purification, carbon storage, moderation of extreme weather events, generation and preservation of soils, and control of agricultural pests. Although these ecosystem services were not explicitly quantified in this study, secondary sources were used to estimate a value of $4.605 billion annually.



2017 Economic Contributions Florida cattle industry infographic

Suggested Website Citation:

Hodges, A.W., Court, C.D., Rahmani, M., & Stair, C. (2019, March). Economic Contributions of Beef and Dairy Cattle and Allied Industries in Florida in 2017. UF/IFAS Economic Impact Analysis Program, Food and Resource Economics Department, University of Florida. Retrieved [date] from