• 68°

Report: Ag, timber put $484M in local economy

Alan Jackson stands in front of his two laying hen houses in the Horn Hill Community. Jackson’s Yellow River Poultry Farms is one nearly 1,100 farms in the county.

Alan Jackson stands in front of his two laying hen houses in the Horn Hill Community. Jackson’s Yellow River Poultry Farms is one nearly 1,100 farms in the county.

Most people wrinkle their noses at the smell of a chicken house.

Not cousins Danny and Alan Jackson of the Horn Hill Community. nor do the nearly 700 people in the county employed in the poultry industry.

That’s the smell of money, according to an annual report released this week by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System detailing the state’s $70.4 billion economic impact of agriculture, forestry and related industries in 2010.

The report, outlined on AlabamaAgImpact.com, details county-level data, including dollar value of economic impact and job numbers related to agriculture and forestry industries.

0626-eggs-in-one-basket

For Covington County, that meant $199.3 million was generated through the county’s production sector, which helped to create 4,369 jobs. Nearly 2,700 of those jobs were in the agriculture and forestry industries, while the remaining nearly 1,700 were in the agriculture inputs and services and food and affiliated products distribution industries.

The county’s top three commodities were poultry and egg, cattle and peanuts.

Danny Jackson owns Yellow River Poultry Farms. He and two fulltime employees work two 400-foot laying houses. The trio hold three of 690 poultry jobs in the county as outlined in the report, which helped to generate $2.5 million last year.

Jackson said he does his part to help with the economy – spending more than $12,000 in salaries $10,000 a year in insurance costs and more than $15,000 a year in utility costs.

“And we won’t even talk about the repairs and maintenance costs, but the work we do here is that my hens lay the eggs that are hatched into the chickens you see in the broiler houses,” Jackson said. “It takes me and two others to work these two houses. It’s not easy, but it’s what we do.”

Drive down nearly any county or state road, and one can easily see the farms dot the horizon. Within a five-mile stretch of Woodall Road, tractors nearly outnumber the pickups.

Alan Jackson and his wife, Jamie, own a 280-acre farm down Jackson Towne Road. The couple operates four grower houses, runs 60 head of cattle and farms soybeans.

“It’s just in my family,” Alan said of the industry. “And the prices are pretty good now, too.”

The cattle industry generated $14.5 million, while employing 236 people in Covington County. The peanut industry generated $10.4 million, while employing 106 countywide.

The timber industry generated $22.2 million, while employing 171.

Total impact from the ag and timber industries was $482.4 million or 21.1 percent of the county’s total economic activity for 2010.