Marion County Florida Agriculture Information

Marion county agriculture supports 27,515 full and part-time jobs and generates $1.20 billion in annual revenues.
More broadly, our 3,500 farms and 377,000 acres under production contribute as much as 15% of the county's economic output and up to 20% of its employment. The county's largest contributing sectors are equine, cattle, peanuts and hay.

 

Equine

Equine

Known by many as the "Horse Capital of the World," Marion County's equine sector began to flourish in the 1950's because of Florida's advantageous winter breeding season weather. Today, the favorable climate combined with Marion County's exceptional training & breeding facilities, leading veterinary research, mineral rich soils and excellent pastures draw breeders, owners, buyers, and trainers alike. Ranked 2nd in the nation for foal production , 75% of Florida's Thoroughbred industry is located in Marion County. In recent years, other segments of the industry have been growing and currently there are numerous other equine operations in addition to the 600 Thoroughbred farms located in the county.

CattleCattle

Marion County has one of the largest chapters in the Florida Cattlemen's Association and its volunteers organize and operate the annual Ocala Bull Sale. Started in 1957 by Doug Oswald, this historic auction is the oldest graded bull sale in the United States and helped transform Florida into a primary market for top southeast bull producers. The county also produces some 21,000 calves annually which are shipped to feedlots across the country especially in Texas and Oklahoma. This requires sizeable herds of brood cows and intensive management by ranchers to consistently produce a large number of live births and early weight gain in calves.

Peanuts peanuts

Peanuts have always been a successful crop for Marion County farmers and we remain one of the leading producing counties in the state. Marion County is the 5th largest producer in the state planting approximately 9,300 acres of peanuts annually. Well adapted to sandy Coastal Plain soils, it is one of the few crops that do well when grown on deep sands and responds to rotation more than most agronomic crops. Recent successful breeding programs have led to more disease resistant peanut varieties that are lower in fat content.

 

Hay

Hay is produced for cattle feed, horse feed and bedding. Bahia grass is the most common hay produced, followed by costal Bermuda and a small percentage of perennial peanut hay. With its high humidity and frequent rainfall, Florida is not the easiest place to dry a hay crop and yet hay remains one of the best choices as a means of conserving winter forage. Largely mechanized, Marion County dries and stores 50 tons of this good nutritional value annually.

Nursery

Nursery crops are one of Florida's largest agricultural segments and the state is ranked second only to California in terms of value. Considered environmentally friendly and welcomed in most counties, Marion County remains a leader in the industry with 95 nurseries and nearly 1,900 acres in production. Nursery products add value to individual properties and create landscapes that add to the overall beauty of the county.

Forestry / Silviculture

Administering the composition, health and quality of our woodlands to meet the community's long-term needs is the science of Silviculture. With more than 114,000 acres in planted pines and an additional 137,000 in mixed timber, Marion County uses an integrated approach by combining agricultural and forestry technologies to create a more diverse and sustainable land-use system.

Other

Rounding out Marion County's agriculture portfolio are 76 farms with 7,400 acres in vegetable and melon production generating some $80 million in annual sales and another $9 million in sales from the fruits, nuts and berries category . The county also boasts 350 acres of planted blueberries and 1,600 acres of citrus.


 

The information on this page was provided by a UF/Food & Resource Econmics study of Marion County, Florida Agriculture.
Download/print the complete study with a list of references. (pdf)

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