DALLAS — A new study shows between 2007 and 2012, farms and farmland increased by nearly 10 percent in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, said Dr. Blake Bennett, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist in Dallas.
“While most people think skyscrapers, pavement and urban congestion when they think about the DFW metroplex, the fact is agriculture is alive and well — and growing — in this part of the state,” Bennett said.
This and other information about agribusiness and agricultural production throughout the metroplex can be found in the recent publication by Bennett and Daniel Hanselka, AgriLife Extension associate in economics in College Station. Titled “The Impact of Agribusiness in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex,” it can be found at http://agecoext.tamu.edu/files/2013/08/DFWMetroplex.pdf.
Dallas and Tarrant counties are the regional trade centers for eight counties with great agricultural importance to the state, Bennett explained.
“Denton and Collin counties form the northern border while Ellis and Johnson counties serve as the region’s southern border, and Rockwall and Kaufman counties set the eastern border. These eight counties comprise over 910,000 acres of agricultural land with 830,000 acres in crops and 80,000 acres in pasture. Approximately 2 percent of the cropland is in irrigated production.”
More than 20 different crops are produced commercially in the metroplex, he said. These include a variety of fruits and vegetables and major field crops.
“The area’s climate and soil conditions are particularly well suited to the development of high-value specialty crops,” Bennett said. “Primary crops include nursery crops, wheat, corn, grain sorghum, hay, and ensilage. In all, the DFW region produces 19 percent of the state’s nursery crops, 13 percent of the sunflowers, 10 percent of the soybeans and 7 percent of the state’s wheat.”
He said the area is also flush with livestock and livestock products, including poultry and specialties such as wool.
“During that period, cash receipts of cow-calf and stocker operations, exceeded all other categories in this group at $144.8 million,” Bennett said. “Dairy followed at $15.5 million and poultry rounded out the top three with sales of $11.2 million. Total sales for livestock and livestock products were $178.4 million.”
He said there are approximately 203,000 cattle in the region with more than 50,000 being beef cows.
“Agribusiness firms within the wholesale trade sector employed 87,773 people with an annual payroll of $6.2 billion. And cash receipts for crops, livestock and livestock products in the metroplex averaged $732.7 million from 2010 to 2013.”
Bennett said the agricultural growth in the metroplex has been in contrast to the rest of Texas, where the number of farms increased by just over one-half of one percent and farmland actually saw a small decrease.
“Farms of every size in the metroplex saw increases with most being smaller acreage farms,” he said. “For the same period, the rest of Texas showed an increase only in farms from 10-179 acres while all other size categories showing decreases.”
Bennett said the direct value of agricultural production has not been the only benefit to the local economy.
“Many production expenses are paid to local suppliers. And farmers and ranchers also spend part of their wages and profits in the county, eating at local restaurants and buying groceries, clothing, movie tickets and other goods and consumer items, as do their employees.”
He also said adding to the overall agricultural muscle are retail food and trade services, transportation and warehousing, agricultural services, as well as manufacturing related to agribusiness such as food and kindred products, paper and allied products, lumber and wood products, textile mill products, furniture and fixtures, chemicals and allied products, and apparel and agricultural machinery.
“The agricultural diversity of the DFW metroplex is as diverse as the area itself,” Bennett said. “While most people may see only big city lights and high rises in the metroplex, just beyond these are numerous farms and fields that provide some of the most significant agricultural production in the state.”