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States with the biggest agriculture industry

  • States with the biggest agriculture industry

    Have you ever stopped to think about where your food comes from? How about the people who work to make sure your food is being grown and processed safely? The sad reality is that most Americans don't recognize just how much the agriculture industry affects their everyday lives. The connection is not solely confined to your grocery store, either, industries affected by the agricultural sector include food/beverage service, forestry, and textiles, just to name a few.

    The disconnect between Americans and their food sources is even more concerning, and appears to be rooted in ignorance and lack of exposure rather than stupidity (some readers may remember the controversial survey that found 7% of Americans believe chocolate milk came from brown cows). Less than 2% of the American workforce was directly employed in agriculture in the year 2000, a drastic transition from 40% a century earlier. In a 2011 survey, only 17% of elementary-school students knew that the patty from their hamburger came from an animal. Luckily for future generations, there are organizations like the National Future Farmers of America (FFA) Organization and 4-H helping to bridge the gap between consumers and farmers and fight agricultural illiteracy from youth.

    Using data from the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, Stacker compiled facts about the economic and environmental impact of the agriculture industry for each state, as well as how the industry affects residents and what aspects about that state make it ideal for agriculture. To examine which crops and commodities each state produced or sold the most of in 2018, we also looked at the agricultural overviews from the USDA.

    States like Alaska and Hawaii generated a wide range of unique agricultural commodities due to climates that differ from the rest of the country. States such as Texas and Wisconsin produced crops and livestock like cotton, cattle, and dairy cows known worldwide for their quality. Of course, there are always the corn belt states of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas that provide a majority of the country's corn supply thanks to level landscapes and nitrogen-rich soil.

    Principally, Stacker took data from 2018 state agricultural overview reports and commodity values from 2012 ranked by the total value of agricultural products sold, provided by the USDA, to list the states with the biggest agriculture industry in order.

    You may also like: How each state uses its land

  • #50. Alaska

    - Total value of agricultural products sold: $58.9 million
    - Number of farm operations: 1,000 (0.9 million acres, #44 among all states)
    - Net income of farm operations: $8.6 million (#48 among all states, average per farm: $11,271)
    - Top agricultural commodities sold: Aquaculture ($29.8 million); nursery, greenhouse, floriculture, and sod ($13.0 million); cattle and calves ($1.1 million)

    Alaska's climate is certainly unique with its abundance of sunlight and famously clean air. The state produced 29,000 tons of hay in 2018, for a combined value of $10.3 million, and though the weather is temperamental by agriculture standards, the lack of pests produces some high-quality crops. Alaska officials are aware that their state isn't known for agriculture, so they stamp their products with a distinct seal.

  • #49. Rhode Island

    - Total value of agricultural products sold: $59.7 million
    - Number of farm operations: 1,100 (0.1 million acres, #50 among all states)
    - Net income of farm operations: -$1 million (#49 among all states, average per farm: -$812)
    - Top agricultural commodities sold: Nursery, greenhouse, floriculture, and sod ($32.8 million); vegetables, melons, potatoes, and sweet potatoes ($9.3 million); fruit, tree nuts, and berries ($4.1 million)

    Rhode Island produced 42,000 tons of corn and more than $1.5 million worth of hay in 2018. The agriculture industry in the small state is steadily growing, evident in the 11% increase in farmland since 2002, and thanks in part to the RI Department of Agriculture's increased marketing strategies. RI residents enjoy the “Get Fresh. Buy Local.” initiative promoting awareness and interest in locally sourced produce.

  • #48. New Hampshire

    - Total value of agricultural products sold: $190.9 million
    - Number of farm operations: 4,100 (0.4 million acres, #48 among all states)
    - Net income of farm operations: -$10 million (#50 among all states, average per farm: -$2,286)
    - Top agricultural commodities sold: Milk from cows ($54.8 million); nursery, greenhouse, floriculture, and sod ($49.9 million); poultry and eggs ($13.5 million)

    New Hampshire produced 252,000 tons of corn and 163,000 gallons of maple syrup in 2018. With New Hampshire becoming the first state to eradicate the disease Brucellosis in cattle, citizens can rest assured in their state's dedication to health. The local department prioritizes safety and closely monitors diseases that affect livestock and poultry, making it a great option for commodities.

  • #47. Massachusetts

    - Total value of agricultural products sold: $492.2 million
    - Number of farm operations: 7,200 (0.5 million acres, #47 among all states)
    - Net income of farm operations: $39.5 million (#46 among all states, average per farm: $5,093)
    - Top agricultural commodities sold: Nursery, greenhouse, floriculture, and sod ($144.2 million); fruit, tree nuts, and berries ($125.6 million); vegetables, melons, potatoes, and sweet potatoes ($81.2 million)

    Massachusetts produced 240,000 tons of corn, 1.9 million barrels of cranberries, and a whopping 43.4 million pounds of apples in 2018. The state's large number of bogs and marshes make it the second-largest producer of cranberries. Though Massachusetts is considered small, it ranks in the top 10 nationally for its large number of farmers markets and direct sales of agricultural products.

  • #46. Connecticut

    - Total value of agricultural products sold: $550.6 million
    - Number of farm operations: 5,500 (0.4 million acres, #49 among all states)
    - Net income of farm operations: $25.6 million (#47 among all states, average per farm: $4,278)
    - Top agricultural commodities sold: Nursery, greenhouse, floriculture, and sod ($252.9 million); milk from cows ($69.8 million); poultry and eggs ($48.9 million)

    Connecticut produced 16.4 million pounds of apples and racked up $18.96 million worth of hay in 2018. The state has a diverse selection of agricultural and aquacultural products, ranging from tobacco to clams to greenhouse and nursery items. The state in 2019 began talks of producing hemp, a crop known for being sustainable and eco-friendly.

  • #45. Hawaii

    - Total value of agricultural products sold: $661.3 million
    - Number of farm operations: 7,300 (1.1 million acres, #43 among all states)
    - Net income of farm operations: $44.0 million (#45 among all states, average per farm: $6,282)
    - Top agricultural commodities sold: Grains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas ($152.9 million); fruit, tree nuts, and berries ($151.8 million); nursery, greenhouse, floriculture, and sod ($79.9 million)

    Hawaii's unique tropical climate allows Americans access to domestic crops like chocolate and pineapple that can't be grown as easily on the U.S. mainland. The agricultural department in Hawaii supports farmers and farmland by working to keep invasive pests off the islands, inspecting all plant and animal material as it enters the state. Hawaii produced 2.99 million pounds of taro in 2018 for a value of $1.97 million.

  • #44. Maine

    - Total value of agricultural products sold: $763.1 million
    - Number of farm operations: 7,600 (1.3 million acres, #41 among all states)
    - Net income of farm operations: $164.6 million (#42 among all states, average per farm: $20,141)
    - Top agricultural commodities sold: Vegetables, melons, potatoes, and sweet potatoes ($207.3 million); milk from cows ($126.6 million); fruit, tree nuts, and berries ($114.7 million)

    Maine produced 15.3 million hundredweights of potatoes in 2018, as well as 48 million pounds of apples and 540,000 tons of corn. Agriculture in Maine is very diverse, giving residents access to a wide variety of organic products. Despite its small size, Maine is the largest producer of wild blueberries in the world, with more than 38,000 acres devoted.

  • #43. Nevada

    - Total value of agricultural products sold: $764.1 million
    - Number of farm operations: 3,400 (6.1 million acres, #37 among all states)
    - Net income of farm operations: $168.6 million (#41 among all states, average per farm: $40,745)
    - Top agricultural commodities sold: Other crops and hay ($280.6 million); cattle and calves ($241.6 million); milk from cows ($125.6 million)

    Nevada had more than 6 million acres devoted to farmland in 2018, producing 1.16 million tons of hay and 900,000 bushels of wheat. The state naturally has an arid climate, but through the implementation of quality irrigation systems, Nevada produces high yields of crop growth. As one of the largest industries in the state, agriculture is a significant contributor to the local economy of its rural areas.

  • #42. Vermont

    - Total value of agricultural products sold: $776.1 million
    - Number of farm operations: 6,800 (1.2 million acres, #42 among all states)
    - Net income of farm operations: $152.4 million (#43 among all states, average per farm: $20,772)
    - Top agricultural commodities sold: Milk from cows ($504.9 million); other crops and hay ($88.3 million); cattle and calves ($61.9 million)

    It's no surprise that Vermont produces the largest quantities of maple syrup in the country, with 1.94 million gallons produced in 2018. That year also saw 20.1 million pounds of apples and 1.1 million tons of hay. The diverse agriculture industry allows Vermont to produce not only dairy and apples, but Christmas trees, emus, and honey. As the state with the most farmers markets per capita, residents can benefit from the abundant availability of all of Vermont's unique products within their own communities.

  • #41. West Virginia

    - Total value of agricultural products sold: $806.8 million
    - Number of farm operations: 23,400 (3.6 million acres, #39 among all states)
    - Net income of farm operations: $74.4 million (#44 among all states, average per farm: $3,462)
    - Top agricultural commodities sold: Poultry and eggs ($401.4 million); cattle and calves ($217.4 million); grains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas ($37.4 million)

    West Virginia is the country's leader when it comes to small family-run farms, giving the state more economic stability and the farmers more freedom. Due to its abundance of clean water sources, trout and other aquaculture thrives in West Virginia, as well as cattle from the hilly terrain. The state in 2018 produced 922,000 tons of hay, 110 million pounds of apples, and 1.4 million bushels of soybeans.

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