Agriculture as part of the state’s economy is likely to show slight increases for 2017, according to the forecast by the University of Georgia Department of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. The annual ag forecast wrapped up its statewide tour in late January with a session at UGA for the north part of the state.

Madison and Jackson counties are among the state leaders in beef cattle and poultry value and that is likely to continue, according to the forecast.

Madison County is number two in the state with $452.12 million. Only Colquitt County, with $473.23 million, topped Madison.

Jackson ranked in the state’s top five counties for “farm gate value” of its 2015 agricultural products. It produced $323.17 million in “farm gate value.”

Both counties are near the top in economic impact from the poultry industry. Both are in the “more than $100 million” range.

Beef cattle also is a large part of the agriculture economy in both counties. Both have more than $15 million in “farm gate value.”

Jackson County had 3,734 jobs in agriculture in 2015. Madison County had 1,769, the UGA “ag snapshots” publication said.

Levi Russell, assistant professor in the department, said “other meats,” hogs and dairy, had large numbers in production and that is likely to continue. Both have high production numbers compared to the five-year average.

Poultry and hogs might compete with each other to be the alternative to beef, he said. Pricing for each are likely to drive purchases in groceries.

Russell said exports of the two also will be “a big component of what happens to our prices.”

Low feed prices will be a big factor in 2017 profits.

In beef cattle, the numbers have been “on an uptick” in the past couple of years.

He expects that to “normalize” for the next couple of years.

A big factor for beef profits will be the recovery of pasture conditions in the state. Improvements in the state’s drought conditions also could be a factor.

The two counties rank low in production for fruits and nuts, vegetables, ornamental horticulture and forest products. They are in the middle ranges for row and forage crops. Those products produce feed for beef cattle and dairy herds.

Russell also said the state’s dairy production is likely to continue to increase, partly because the global dairy prices seem to be strengthening.

Georgia ranks first in the country for production of blueberries, broilers, peanut, pecans and spring season onions.

Broilers, by far, is the top commodity for value in Georgia, making up 32 percent of the total. “Rest of commodities” have a total of 28.9 percent and beef is third at 6.7 percent.

As usual, weather has a large effect on agriculture.

The speakers also said regional effects of weather, production and labor would be factors in how agriculture does economically in 2017.

“Those of us in agriculture are, by nature, optimistic,” Sam Pardue, dean of the UGA agriculture college, said.

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