Since the birth of the City of Kingsville, agriculture has been and remains an important economic cornerstone. Early settlers were attracted to the region by railroad publications and farm magazines that touted the warm climate, abundant artesian wells and rich soil. Farm families flocked to Kingsville and the surrounding areas, planting onions, cantaloupes, corn, cabbage and cotton, as well as raising dairy cattle, beef cattle, horses and mules. Agriculture flourished, and Kingsville was the first stop on the St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico Railway that saw farmers ship vegetables to northern markets. By 1915, the growing Kingsville dairy industry was shipping milk products as far north as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Production practices and market demands have changed the South Texas farming operation since those early days. Kingsville is no longer a vegetable and dairy center, but is located in one of the major cotton and grain producing areas of Texas. Today, approximately 35,000 acres of cotton and 42,000 acres of grain sorghum are planted in Kleberg County annually. Combined, these two commodities account for an estimated 47 percent of the total annual cash value of Kingsville area agricultural products.
Beef has always been “king” in Kingsville and remains so today. In addition to being a major cow/calf producing area, stocker cattle are utilized in numerous grazing strategies and thousands of head of fat cattle are shipped each year to packers. The abundant wildlife and plant species that populate the vast South Texas rangelands surrounding Kingsville provide the foundation for an ever-growing eco-tourism industry.