Located in the westernmost part of Florida’s panhandle, Escambia and Santa Rosa counties encompass more than 1 million acres. The two counties have an estimated total population of 439,000, of which fewer than 15,000 are considered to be farm shares. However, the people who live in our agricultural communities comprise a thriving part of our economy and illustrate the diversity of industry in these counties. The agriculture of these counties are dominated by row crops like cotton, peanuts, and corn, but as in other parts of the U.S., agriculture is diversifying to include small farms that grow food and develop products that are destined to be purchased and consumed locally. Visitors to farms can pick blueberries and blackberries, enjoy boiled peanuts grown on the farm, get lost in corn mazes, learn how to ride a horse, or buy farm fresh vegetables, or just take a leisurely drive and see picturesque fields with farmers planting, tending, or harvesting the crops in rural Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
Fast Facts about Agriculture in the two County area:
- 695,000 acres are used as harvested forests.
- Cotton/cottonseed, peanuts, corn, wheat, oats, soybeans, pecans, and vegetables are grown on 89,000 acres with crop values totaling $100 million. Twenty-five percent of the cotton and 13 percent of the peanuts grown in Florida come from the fields of northern Santa Rosa County.
- Hay is produced on 6,000 acres with a gross yearly value of nearly $2 million.
- 25,000 acres of improved and native pastures feed roughly 7,500 beef cattle, 5,000 goats, 400 milk cows, and 400 hogs.
- Santa Rosa County is Florida’s leader in acres of Class I farm land and acres of conservation tillage with 35,000 acres (20,000 acres in cotton and 15,000 acres in peanuts) during 2006.