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When it comes to agriculture in northeast Georgia, chicken flies to the top of the list

University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Chicken is big business in north Georgia.

That’s according to new data from the Georgia Farm Gate Report, released earlier this year by the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development. The Farm Gate Report presents data from the year 2022, the most recent year for which information is available.

While agricultural output in Athens-Clarke County is small, due to the largely urban nature of the county, it adjoins one of the state’s most agriculturally productive regions, seven counties stretching to the South Carolina border, all producing commodities worth more than $200 million per year.

And in many of those counties, chicken is king.

Two Athens-area counties – Madison and Oglethorpe – are in the top ten counties in the state when it comes to total agricultural commodity value. Together, those two counties make up nearly 5% of the state’s total agricultural revenue.

Much of that farm-related output comes from the production of broilers, chickens produced for meat that eventually end up in nuggets, soup, salad, and other dishes. Chickens bred to lay eggs also play a big role in the region’s agricultural economy. Madison, Oglethorpe, Jackson, and Banks Counties are among the top ten poultry and egg producers in Georgia.

Northeast Georgia’s Hart County can lay claim to being the most chicken-rich county, ranking first in broiler production and second in egg production.

Driven in large part by the booming poultry industry in northeast Georgia, chicken is the state’s largest agricultural product. Broilers are a $6.6 billion dollar industry in the state, while eggs produce some $960 million per year in revenue for poultry farmers. The two sectors together represent more than 40% of the state’s total commodity value.

Martin Matheny is WUGA's Program Director and a host and producer of our local news program 'Athens News Matters.' He started at WUGA in 2012 as a part-time classical music host and still hosts WUGA's longest-running local program 'Night Music' which is heard on WUGA and GPB Classical. He lives in Normaltown with his wife, Shaye and dog, Murphy.