Texas agriculture production for 2005 was valued at $18.5 billion - up from $18 billion in 2004, according to a Texas Cooperative Extension study.

Carl Anderson, professor emeritus and Extension economist, said total value was calculated surveying production by each Texas county.

“Prices were mostly lower for crops from a year earlier and higher for livestock, but the production value has increased about 33 percent since 1995,” Anderson said.

Estimated value includes crop season values and some on-farm use of commodities, which is typically higher than cash receipts, he said. One example of on-farm use of a commodity is hay produced on the farm, then fed to livestock instead of selling for a cash price.

The largest growth in the last 10 years has come in aquaculture, horses used for recreation, and hunting and fishing leases, according to the study.

“For a longer period, since 1988, the value of these activities, along with outdoor recreation, timber and Christmas trees, have almost tripled and now account for nearly $2 billion in gross value,” Anderson said.

Rural land as an investment is increasing, he said. Uses include weekend retreats, recreation and part-time agricultural operations, according to the study.

In the crop sector, the biggest gain since 1995 was in horticulture plants. Growth was also supported by cotton, ensilage, sunflowers, wheat, watermelons, grapefruit, oranges and blueberries. Overall, the estimated value of these crops in 2005 was $6 billion, according to the report.

Horticulture specialty crop sales in Texas have more than doubled to an estimated value of $1.8 billion, Anderson said.

“Only cattle and cotton are greater,” Anderson said. “Horticulture crop sales trend higher as production of bedding plants, foliage plants, sod and woody landscape plants increase. Plants are placed in office buildings, shopping malls, (and) public buildings as well as homes.”

Livestock production value exceeded $10 billion. Primary growth was in the production of broilers, eggs, milk, beef cattle, goats, hogs and honey, according to the report.

Income to landowners from hunting leases exceeded $525 million in 2005

* up 166 percent in the last decade. Fishing income, estimated at $78 million, has tripled since 1995, Anderson said.

Wildlife management as an economic enterprise generates “substantial income,” Anderson said, “especially in South Texas, the Edwards Plateau, Rolling Plains and East Texas regions. And as urban population expands, the demand for rural areas with hunting and fishing activities continues to increase.”

Land with quail, dove, turkey, pheasant, waterfowl, deer, wild hogs and wildlife for watching is in strong demand from non-farm owners, Anderson said.

“There’s a growing interest in wildlife practices to improve the amount and quality of wildlife,” he said. “Many ranchers have reduced or removed cows in favor of increasing the amount of wildlife. Besides, most wildlife survives drought periods much better than cattle.”

Texas ranks second behind California in farm receipts. Livestock account for well over half of total sales, Anderson said.

“The large amount of pasture and rangeland provides forage for grazing cows, and producing feeder and stocker calves,” he said. “A large area of productive soils and excellent export and transportation facilities favor farming and ranching operations.”

Texas is first in the U.S. in sales of cattle and calves, sheep and wool, goats and mohair, and cotton. It also leads in value of farm real estate and number of farms and ranches.

The value of farm assets, which includes land, buildings, livestock, machinery, crops and livestock, is estimated to exceed $115 billion in 2006.

“With total debt around $13.3 billion, the debt-to-asset ratio remains low,” Anderson noted.

Competition in producing main crops, such as cotton, wheat, corn and rice, will intensify globally, Anderson said.

“The competition forces commercial agricultural operations to use new technology to become more productive and economically efficient,” he said. “The result will assure a food and fiber system that provides consumers with an assortment of clothing, and food to eat for a reasonable price, and to feed a growing world population.”