The Agricultural Extension agents in Palm Beach County serve one of the largest agricultural counties in the U.S. in value of products sold, exceeding $1 billion dollars annually.
Agricultural agents introduce growers to new plant varieties and pest control techniques as well as new regulations or changes in regulations affecting production methods and worker safety. Information is provided on alternative agriculture interests such as vegetable gardening, tissue culture, and raising earthworms.
The nursery industry benefits from seminars on business management skills. The use of low energy landscape designs is encouraged and workshops are conducted on propagation, irrigation management, fertilization, and plant selection and care.
Practical skills training offered through the agricultural safety program have ranged from conversational Spanish for the farm manager to CPR, farm equipment operation, maintenance, and safety, land leveling, and sprayer calibration.
Extension agents assist government and private agencies in developing policies for land use, tax assessment, and water use and conservation. Governmental policy-makers are informed of the positive economic impact of agribusiness, as well as the industry's needs.
Scientists and farmers from around the world have toured the area to see the progressive production techniques used by agricultural producers in Palm Beach County.
The Business Development Board and a group of "cluster" companies involved in agriculture participate by meeting with the Agriculture Enhancement Council to address issues of common concern in the agricultural community and to support local industry thereby, fostering the economic growth and development of agriculture in the county, while working to develop new agriculture opportunities and products.
The Agribusiness Cluster
Agriculture and Agricultural Services: This cluster is comprised of: Crop production, livestock, hunting and fishing, and agriculture and forestry support services. It involves companies primarily engaged in performing soil preparation services, crop services, veterinary services, other animal services, farm labor and management services, and landscape and horticultural services.
Palm Beach County Agricultural Facts: With an estimated $1.42 billion in total agricultural sales for 2010-2011, Palm Beach County continues to leads the state of Florida, all counties east of the Mississippi River, and its one of the ten largest in the United States. Palm Beach County leads the nation in the production of sugarcane and fresh sweet corn. It leads the state in the production of rice, bell peppers, lettuce, radishes, Chinese vegetables, specialty leaf, cucumbers, eggplants, and herbs. Palm Beach County agricultural infrastructure includes:
- Three major sugar manufacturing mills
- One sugar refinery
- 14 fresh vegetable packinghouses
- 476 horticultural nurseries
- Major hydroponic tomato growing operation
- Rice processing and packaging mill
- Agricultural byproduct electrical cogeneration plant
- Major sugar and molasses port shipping facility
- Equestrian racetrack training facility
- World-famous polo, dressage, and jumpers stadiums
- Largest county golf course revenue in the state at $664 million
- Largest county landscape and landscape maintenance annual revenue in the state at $450 million
- One of the largest county retail garden center annual sales in the state at $279 million
The 459,865 acres dedicated to agriculture represent 36% of the total land mass in the county. Palm Beach County is third in the state in nursery production. Employment in agriculture leads the state in agricultural wages and salary with over $316 million for the fiscal year 2010 - 2011.
Agricultural Economic Development Program: The Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners approved and funded the Agricultural Economic Development Program with the purpose of increasing the continued economic viability of the county's extensive agricultural industry. Representing over $2 billion in economic impact to the county's economy and encompassing approximately 36% of the total land in the county, commercial agriculture is one of our major core industries and employers. The Office of Agricultural Economic Development's main responsibility is to promote job creation, growth, and the continued profitability of this and related industries.
Assistance provided in:
- Agricultural or Related Business Development
- Grant Acquisitions
- New Crop Establishment
- Business Plans
- Agricultural Value-Added Opportunities
- Regulatory Process
- Compliance Marketing Programs
- General Business Assistance
Where can you get more information?
Business Development Board of Palm Beach County
310 Evernia Street, West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Kelly Smallridge, President and CEO
Gary Hines, Senior Vice President, Administration
Shawn Rowan, Vice President, Business Retention and Expansion