WASHINGTON AND HOLMES COUNTIES - According to a 2015 University of Florida-IFAS Extension report, the economic contributions of agriculture remain a significant force in the region.

In Holmes County, the majority of workers were employed in the broad agricultural field were found in the heart of agriculture: crop, livestock, forestry and fisheries production. With the exception of Jackson County, Holmes employed the highest number workers in that category in the entire region, which includes Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Jackson and Washington counties. The industry directly employed 1,828 workers in Holmes County and 1,811 in Washington County. Industry revenue directly generated $106 million in Holmes and $114 million in Washington.

At $46.2 million in revenue, crop and livestock production made up the majority of the county's agricultural-based income. The category generated $37.3 million in foreign and domestic exports and had an economic impact of $75.2 million.

In Washington County, the largest employment base was in food and kindred products distribution and manufacturing. The category brought in $47.8 million in revenue, $3.9 in foreign and domestic exports and had an overall economic impact of $53.4 million.

Farmers face many adversities in the process of providing goods to the market, such as the cost of fertilizer, weather and the overhead of irrigation, according to local officials at UF/IFAS.

Once a year, across the nation, National Ag Day recognizes the abundance afforded by agriculture and the farmers that provide it. Taking a day to recognize their continued contributions to the food industry and the development of infrastructure is warranted. It was observed March 20 this year.

UF/IFAS Director for Washington County Julie Dillard said farmers are some of the "most intelligent people in the world."

"They know when to plant specific crops in order to produce the best bounty," Dillard said. "They know how to work the land in a way as to not diminish it but to leave it in such a way that it continues to give back."

Agriculture is what feeds the world and the hardworking local farm families are the ones to be thanked for taking on the task, she added.

Reporter Diane Robinson contributed to this article.

Economic Contributions of Agriculture in 2015                                      Source: UF/IFAS County Jobs Share of county employment Value Added* impacts Share of GRP** Holmes 1,828 23.6% $59 million 19% Washington 1,811 21.4% $73 million 16.1%




*Value Added is a broad measure of income, representing the sum of employee compensation, proprietor income, other
property income, indirect business taxes and capital consumption (depreciation). Value added is a commonly used
measure of the contribution of an industry to a regional economy because it avoids double counting of intermediate sales.

** Gross Regional Product