Florida agriculture survived the first part of the economic downturn fairly well.

But decreased demand for exports, such as grapefruit, could drag the industry down, a University of Florida expert says in an annual report.

In the report that looks at 2008 economic data, agriculture and related industries contributed $76.5 billion to the state’s economy, says Alan Hodges, an Extension scientist with UF’s Food and Resource Economics Department in Gainesville.

“Every single sector of the economy has been affected in the recession, there’s just no getting away from that. And agriculture is no exception,” Hodges said in a news release. “However, it looks like agriculture has taken less of a hit than some other segments.”

The report is based on economic data compiled by the government, which lags about two years behind, he says. 2008 is the most recent year for which data are available.

Information on how agriculture performed in 2009 won’t be available until this fall, although some employment-related data may be available this summer, he says.

The report tracks more than 90 industry sectors, including farming, ranching, pest control, fertilizer manufacturing, and food and beverage manufacturing.

Economists consider 2007 to be the start of the economic downturn.

In 2008, agriculture had a value-added impact of $76.5 billion compared with $93 billion in 2007, according to the report.

The value-added impact includes what economists call multiplier effects.

If a farmer, for example, buys a tractor. That spending creates revenue for the dealer and his employees, the manufacturer and its employees. They, in turn, spend their wages on food, housing and transportation, among other items.

The researchers rely on a computer model called IMPLAN to track these economic transactions between business sectors.

Agriculture’s economic decline is similar to that suffered by other industries during the same period.

Nevertheless, agriculture and natural resource industries, such as mining and timber production, accounted for about 8 percent of Florida’s gross state product.

Agriculture alone accounted for 14 percent of state employment in 2008.

Of the total amount in 2008, fruit and vegetable farming and processing had a value-added impact of $4.68 billion and provided 68,184 jobs, according to the report.

To read the full report, visit edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fe829.