Florida Agbioscience industries growing, helping region’s economy, new report says

Writer: Mickie Anderson, mickiea@ufl.edu • Contact: Jack Payne, jackpayne@ufl.edu

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Agbioscience boomed in Florida between 2000 and 2010, with related research and development expenditures in the Sunshine State growing 134 percent during that time, according to a new report.

Battelle, a global research and development organization, released a study Tuesday that shows agriculture, forestry and fisheries production in a 13-state region of the southeastern U.S. plus Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands generates $240 billion in regional economic activity and supports more than 2.2 million jobs, with labor income totaling $62 billion.

According to the Batelle study, agbioscience research and development spending went from $213 million to $501 million from 2000 to 2010.

“I think what this study clearly tells us is that for Florida to continue to see this kind of economic growth, we’ve got to continue to invest in these areas,” said Jack Payne, the University of Florida’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “Agriculture and related sciences touch nearly every aspect of our lives. They’re a robust driver of our economy and they will help our state thrive as the country pulls itself out of a rough economy.”

Agbioscience, as defined by the report’s authors, includes not only research related to the food we eat, but the development, production and use of plant and animal organisms for food, health, fuel and industrial applications.

The study offers case studies that highlight technological advances and research being done by the southeastern land-grant universities. They include UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ research that shows irrigation can be vastly reduced by using soil moisture controllers and its work on renewable fuels.

Sustaining the Extension Service and Experiment Station System, further investing in it, and addressing its challenges are keys to maintaining the strength of the economic and social fabric of the nation, the region and the state, the report’s authors said.

The full report may be viewed at: http://www.LSUAgCenter.com/SouthernAgbioscienceImpact.

Battelle is one of the nation’s leading charitable trusts focusing on societal and economic impact and actively supporting and promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, education.

The University of Florida is among 15 land-grant university sponsors of the study, commissioned by the Southern Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors and the Association of Southern Regional Extension Directors.

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