Texas agricultural production for 2007 was a record $21.8 billion due to higher crop and livestock prices, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service report.

Add another $20.8 billion worth of purchased items, such as tires, fuel and other agribusiness supplies used to produce a crop, and the total economic impact to rural Texas tops $42.6 billion, said Dr. Carl Anderson, professor emeritus and AgriLife Extension economist.

“The economic impact to these rural communities is quite substantial, and even more so when you look at how much of an economic driver agriculture overall is to the state of Texas,” said Anderson, who led the study.

The 2007 production mark topped the $16.9 billion recorded during the drought of 2006 and $18.4 billion recorded in 2005, Anderson said.

“Higher crop prices and strong livestock prices have contributed to a substantial increase in economic activities across the rural areas of Texas,” Anderson said.

Increased demand for grain used in ethanol production pushed grain prices “up to the highest level in memory,” Anderson said.

Crop values in 2007 totaled $10 billion – an increase of more than 50 percent from 2006, according to the annual AgriLife Extension survey of estimated agricultural production values for Texas counties.

“Crop yields, forage production and grazing conditions were excellent in 2007,” Anderson said. “Corn, grain sorghum, wheat and hay prices were up sharply, with cotton moderately higher.”

The following are major crop values and those recording gains in excess of 100 percent for 2007:

- Wheat, $779 million – more than double in 2006.

- Corn, $1.1 billion.

- Sorghum, $818 billion.

- Hay production, $1.2 billion.

Values by commodity groups for 2007:

- Food grains totaled $889 million (an 87 percent increase).

- Feed crops totaled $3.3 billion (135 percent increase).

- All cotton (dryland, irrigated), $2.8 billion (a 51 percent increase).

- Oil crops totaled $206 million (59 percent gain).

- Vegetable crops totaled $397 million (a 6 percent increase).

- Fruits and nuts totaled ($183 million (14 percent increase).

- Miscellaneous crops, $2.2 billion (11 percent increase).

- Nursery crops, $1.9 billion.

Meanwhile, livestock values increased 14 percent to $10 billion, matching 2007 crop values, Anderson said.

“The largest increase was 54 percent for $1.2 billion in milk sales,” he said.

Poultry values rose 12 percent to $1.2 billion, while beef cattle totaled $7.1 billion (11 percent increase), according to the report.

Other meat animals (hogs, goats, sheep and other animals) rose to $375 million (2 percent increase) and livestock products of honey, mohair and wool declined 7 percent to $12.2 million.

Ag related activities (aquaculture, fishing, furs and pelts, horses, hunting leases, outdoor land-based recreation, timber, Christmas trees, and miscellaneous activities) advanced only 4 percent to $1.9 billion. Timber accounted for about 42 percent, hunting about 26 percent, horses around 18 percent, and other ag related about 14 percent.

Rural land as an investment continues to be a growing trend, Anderson said.

“Uses include weekend retreats, rural residences, outdoor recreation and part-time agricultural operations continue to be things we are seeing across the state,” he said.

According to the first quarter 2008 survey of agricultural conditions by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, dryland crop values increased 20 percent from 2007 and irrigated land rose 15 percent and ranchland rose 11 percent, Anderson said.

“With increasing demand for food and fiber worldwide, agriculture is destined to play an even greater role in the future,” Anderson said. “A large area of productive soils and excellent export and transportation facilities favor farming and ranching operations.”

Wildlife management used to improve hunting income continued to expand over most rural areas of Texas.

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

Many ranchers have reduced or removed cows in favor of increasing the amount and quality of wildlife, he said.