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Alabama Economy

Agriculture

About 82% of Alabama's annual agricultural production is generated by livestock products. The other 18% comes from crops.

In terms of revenue generated, Alabama's top five agrigultural products are broilers (young chickens), cattle and calves, chicken eggs, greenhouse and nursery products, and cotton.

Livestock

Alabama's agricultural production is dominated by the production of broilers. Almost 60% of the state's livestock production is generated by these young chickens grown for cooking and sold as either whole chickens or chicken parts. In 2004, Alabama ranked third, behind Georgia and Arkansas, producing about 12% of the nation's broilers. Most of the broilers are produced in the northern part of the state.

Cattle and calves account for about 11% of the state's livestock production. Production ranges throughout Alabama but is most prominent in the central part of the state.

Other livestock products include chicken eggs, hogs, aquaculture (catfish farming), and some dairy products.

Crops

While most of Alabama's agricultural production is in livestock, 18% is in crops with Greenhouse, nursery, and sod products leading the way.

At one time "King Cotton" was agricultural royalty in Alabama. Crop failures in the early 1900s, including the boll weevil blight of 1915, persuaded farmers in the state that they would be wise to diversify. Though Alabama only produces about 4% of the nation's total crop today, cotton is still an important field crop in the state. Other valuable crops are peanuts, corn for grain and soybeans.

Peaches, apples, nectarines, plums, grapes, strawberries, and blueberries are grown in the state.

Largest vegetable crops include potatoes, sweet potatoes, sweet corn, tomatoes (categorized as a vegetable), and watermelons.

Agriculture is a serious part of Alabama's economy and, in 1992, the state named "Landmark Park," in Dothan, "the official Agricultural Museum for the State of Alabama."

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Manufacturing

Manufacturers add value to raw products by creating manufactured items. For example, cotton cloth becomes more valuable than a boll of cotton through manufacturing processes.

Chemicals are the most important products produced in Alabama in terms of value added. Manufactured chemicals included industrial chemicals, chemical fibers for textiles, fertilizers, and insecticides. Production of chemicals centers around Decatur and Mobile.

Ranking second in terms of value added are paper products. Raw pulp and paper are produced throughout the state and turned into such finished products like cardboard, paper tissue, and paper bags.

Once at the head of Alabama's industrial growth, manufacture of primary metals like iron and steel are still a part of the state's economy.

Other products manufactured in Alabama include automobiles and trucks, aircraft engines, and military and space equipment.

Ranking fifth in value added are food products, notably bread and meat packing.

Also produced in Alabama are clothing, computer and electronic equipment (communications), fabricated metal products (hardware, containers, architectural metals), machinery (heating and air conditioning equipment, metal working machinery), rubber (tires) and plastic products, textiles (fabrics, threads and yarns), and wood products (lumber, plywood, veneers).

Mining

Coal (from underground and surface mines), natural gas, petroleum (oil), crushed stone and limestone are the most valuable products mined in the State of Alabama.

The coal mined in Alabama is a bituminous, or soft, variety. Most of it is mined in the north-central part of the state. In the west-central part of the state, methane gas is produced from the mined coal.

Natural gas and petroleum wells are found in the southwestern part of the state.

Limestone is mined from quarries near Birmingham and Huntsville. It's used to make cement and used in roadbeds.

Alabama is a leading producer of bauxite and marble. Other mined products include clays, salt, and sand and gravel.

Fishing

Alabama supports a fishing industry based on the saltwater catch provided by the Gulf of Mexico. Shrimp are the most important catch, followed by blue crabs and oysters. Buffalo fish, catfish, and mussels are freshwater contributions. Grain-fed catfish are raised on fish "farms".

Services

Like many states, Alabama's service industries contribute significantly to the state's economy. In Alabama, service industries as a group, generally concentrated in the state's urban areas, contribute the greatest piece of the state's gross product.

At the top of the list are community, business, and personal service (private health care, law firms, software developers, engineering companies) along with wholesale (groceries, machinery, mined products) and retail trades (auto dealerships, discount and food stores).

Government services (public schools, public hospitals, military) rank third.

Alabama's fourth-ranking services include finance, insurance and real estate.

Transportation, communication, and utilities round out the economic contributions in the services sector.

Sources

World Book Online Americas Edition, "Alabama," David C. Weaver and William D. Barnard, <http://www.worldbookonline.com/wbol/wbPage/na/ar/co/010280> (14 August 2001).

U.S. Department of Agriculture: National Agricultural Statistics Service, "Alabama State Agriculture Overview, 2004", 3 January 2006, <http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Ag_Overview/AgOverview_AL.pdf> (12 January 2006)

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