Ranching In Florida: The Most Common Types Of Florida Ranches

June 12, 2023   |   Ranch
ranching in florida citrus grove

There are a diverse range of options for ranching in Florida. Learn more about cattle, equestrian, citrus, and other types while analyzing ranch land for sale.

In Florida, there are roughly 47,500 farms and ranches spread across 9.7 million acres, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). On those properties, you’ll find cattle, horses, citrus, and specialty crops, among other things.  

Ranching in Florida is an opportunity to generate income and save money through applicable tax breaks. For instance, if your land has a Florida Agriculture Classification, the property on the land may be taxed on the market value or on the assessed value (which could be less).

If you're considering ranching in Florida or looking for ranch land for sale, it's important to familiarize yourself with the available options first.   

In this blog post, we'll explore some of the most common types of Florida ranches.  

Cattle Ranches in Florida

Cattle ranching has been part of Florida’s history for more than 400 years, according to the Florida Beef Council. The first documented cattle dates all the way back to the 1500s. Today, roughly one-half of all Florida agricultural land plays a role in cattle production. As of Jan. 1, 2022, there were 1.63 million cattle on Florida farms and ranches. Across the nation, Florida ranks 12th in beef cows and 18th in total cattle.

Some of the main features of cattle ranches in Florida include:

  • Large grazing pastures for cattle
  • Infrastructure for handling cattle, such as corrals and pens
  • Access to water sources for the animals

Florida's cattle ranches come in various sizes, from smaller family-owned operations to large commercial ranches. Livestock raised on ranches are generally used to produce meat for consumption and to supply materials, such as leather or wool.

Equestrian Farm in Florida

With a population of more than 385,000 horses, Florida is the third largest equine state in America. The horse industry produces a $6.8 billion economic impact on Florida’s gross domestic product annually, according to the FDACS, and has helped generate roughly 244,200 jobs.

Horse ranches in Florida are typically designed for breeding, training, polo, rodeos, boarding horses, and/or trail rides, with features such as:

  • Stables and barns for housing horses
  • Fenced paddocks and pastures for grazing and exercise
  • Riding arenas, tracks, or trails for training and leisure

They often cater to specific equestrian disciplines, such as dressage (when the horse and rider work as a team to perform choreographed movements), cross country, or show jumping. Horse facilities can range from small hobby farms to professional training facilities.

There are many tax benefits to owning a horse ranch in Florida as well. For instance, horses are exempt from sales tax if purchased from the original owner. Additionally, Florida’s greenbelt exemption provides Florida horse farms with property tax breaks.

Citrus Groves in Florida

Citrus groves are a prominent type of ranching in Florida, as the state is the nation's leading producer of Valencia oranges, according to FDACS. Florida is also the second-highest producer of all oranges, non-Valencia oranges, and grapefruit.

In the 2020-2021 season, Florida produced 52.8 million boxes of oranges. That same year, Florida was the second-highest producer of citrus in the U.S., outpaced only by California. That year, the on-tree value for Florida’s citrus sales was more than $579 million.   

On a citrus grove property, you might expect to see:

  • Orchards of various citrus trees
  • Irrigation systems for watering the trees

Citrus groves can vary in size, from small family-owned operations to large-scale commercial farms. They are commonly combined with other agricultural pursuits such as cattle ranching or sod farming.

Specialty Farms

Florida's climate and fertile soil also support a variety of specialty farms focusing on niche crops. In fact, Florida nursery and vegetable crops amount to billions of dollars in gate value (market value of a product minus selling costs). The state ranks second for specialty crops, behind California, according to the North Florida Research and Education Center.   

Some examples of specialty crops in Florida include:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Tree nuts
  • Dried fruits
  • Horticulture
  • Nursery crops (including floriculture)

Specialty crops offer a unique opportunity to diversify your yield. If you meet the criteria, you may also apply for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which awards millions of dollars to projects that enhance the competitiveness of Florida’s specialty crops.

Finding the Perfect Florida Ranch

With so many types of ranches in Florida, it can be difficult to narrow in on the right one to meet your goals and budget. Headquartered in Lakeland, Florida, and with additional offices in the Sunshine State, SVN | Saunders Ralston Dantzler understands the Florida ranching market. Our highly experienced advisors listen carefully to your needs and help you find a cattle ranch, equestrian facility, citrus grove, or specialty farm that aligns with them.

To get started, explore our property listings or call 877.518.5263.

Keat Waldron
Keat Waldron, ALC is a Senior Advisor at SVN | Saunders Ralston Dantzler Real Estate in Lakeland, Florida. Keat knows fostering relationships and understanding the needs of buyers and sellers throughout the transaction process are key to ensuring success for all parties involved. He holds the...