In my July article, I discussed agriculture as being the largest industry within Alabama; it contributes nearly $5 billion to the state’s economy. The overall impact of agriculture to Alabama is linked to a broad range of direct and indirect economic sectors including food and associated product manufacturing, wholesale and retail distribution, input supplies, support services, etc. While this is impressive, those involved in the small ruminant (goat and sheep) industry and associated government service sector might like to know the economic impact of small ruminants within Alabama. For our benefit, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service conducts a cyclical census of agriculture and gathers such relevant information. The Alabama Field Office of NASS was kind enough to provide me this information whereby I was able to evaluate the data, convert it into implied values, and enter the information into tables regarding the impact of the small ruminant industry in Alabama.
While all this information is five years old, it is the most current set of information available at this time; NASS will begin conducting another census of agriculture this year and probably present the information in 2013. You are likely to receive their survey in the near future, please provide the relevant information to the best of your ability as it holds influence on the future of the small ruminant industry.
In my calculations for the table in this article, I have based my implied values based on 2007 Ag Census data identifying goat and sheep inventories on a county by county basis. Utilizing those numbers, I have estimated average values of animals on farms at $125 per head (young, old, female, male, goats and sheep).The information within the tables tells the rest of the story. In the tables where there is a question mark, it is because the Ag Census had insufficient data for any kind of number. I hope this information gives you a greater appreciation for the small ruminant industry.
Economic analysis in many states shows agriculture and natural resources are linked to a broad array of economic sectors for commodity production, and food and related product manufacturing, distribution and relevant service activities. These industries collectively have a significant economic impact on any state economy. However, to those of us involved with the small ruminant industry, we are specifically concerned with the $7,000,000 (2011 data) value of goat, sheep and their offspring on farms within Alabama.
Robert Spencer is an Urban Regional Extension Specialist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.