While cropping and livestock areas see between 50 of 60 inches of rain per year, it’s tough to hold water in beach-like soil…and then there are so-called “storm events” that sprinkle the local crop production vernacular with terms like “except in a hurricane year.”

The sub-tropical climate has many advantages for farmers, including being able to produce the highest quality citrus year-round. It also has many challenges that come with its meteorological and political climate. Bugs and pests thrive in such environs and producers also have to contend with frost, drought, hurricanes, development, energy costs, labor issues, water worries, pestilence and bureaucratic regulations.

Strickland recently pointed out to a congressional committee on Capitol Hill that growers also have to deal with “pseudo-scientific trade barriers.”

Despite these pesky problems Florida farmers are number one in the nation in the production of citrus, snap beans, fresh market tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, sugarcane and a number of other commodities.

These growers proudly produce 76 percent of the nation’s citrus crop, a $9 billion bonanza for the state. There is also a thriving aquaculture industry turning out aquatic plants, tropical fish and clams. Throughout the on-going economic challenges, Florida agriculture has been a stabilizing influence on the entire state.

It’s easy to see why a lot of folks in the U.S. think of Florida as just ‘gators and ‘glades, astronauts and Mickey Mouse, but a side trip off the interstate reveals the manifold and historic world of agriculture in fabulous Florida.

Erik Ness is a regular contributor to AFBF’s Focus on Agriculturecommentary series. He is a media consultant and a retired staff member of the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau.