Ag water

State and federal gencies provide better information about farming than is available for other categories of water-associated activities. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture gives us an updated picture of Florida farms and water use in the newly-released 2012 Census of Agriculture. USDA reports that Florida agriculture is very highly concentrated in big operations: farms with sales over a million dollars a year, amounting to only 2.6% of all farms, account for 92% of all sales.

Irrigated farms in Florida are much larger, on average, than non-irrigated farms. Irrigated farmland totals about 1.5 million acres, with 58% occurring on farms larger than 2,000 acres. Floriculture crops (garden plants, cut flowers, etc.), which tend to be intensive irrigators, increased in acreage by 22% between 2007 and 2012. According to the USDA survey, agricultural fertilizer use declined 19% between 2007 and 2012, which is different from trends reported by the Florida Department of Agriculture.

There is much other detailed statewide and county-level information in the new agricultural census. Too bad that that comparable data is is not available for household, golf course, mining, lodging, and other water-using activities.

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