Celebrating the Agriculture Industry

March 20, 2017


“National Ag Week” is being celebrated March 19-25 in Minnesota, as well as across the United States, with Tuesday, March 21, being designated as “National Ag Day”. As we celebrate “National Ag Week”, it is a good time to reflect on all the traditions and advancements that help make the U.S. and Minnesota agriculture industry truly remarkable.

Following are some brief highlights of Minnesota’s Agriculture Industry :

  • Minnesota had a total of 73,300 farms in 2016, which compares to 80,992 farms in 2007. Minnesota ranked 9th in total farm numbers, with the top five states being Texas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, and California.
  • Approximately 88 percent of Minnesota’s farms are family or individually owned, 6 percent are partnerships, 4 percent are corporations, and 2 percent are under some other structure.
  • There are approximately 26 million acres of land in production in Minnesota, with over 6,200 farms being above 1,000 acres. The average farm size in Minnesota is about 353 acres.
  • The Minnesota agriculture industry had total receipts of nearly $19 billion in 2014, which ranked 5th in the U.S. total receipts, trailing only California, Iowa, Texas, and Nebraska. Minnesota crop sales totaled about $10 billion, ranking 5th in the U.S., behind California, Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska. Minnesota ranked 8th in livestock sales, with total sales of nearly $9 billion, and with Texas, Iowa, and California being the leading states in livestock receipts.
  • Minnesota ranks 1st nationally in sugar beet, sweet corn, and green pea production, and usually ranks 3rd or 4th in corn, soybean, and spring wheat production. Minnesota also ranks second nationally in wild rice production, and 3rd in the production of edible beans.
  • Minnesota ranks 1st in the U.S. in turkey production, usually ranks 2nd or 3rd in hog production, 3rd or 4th in overall red meat production, 6th in cheese production, and 8th in milk production.
  • In 2014, the State’s hog production totaled $2.85 billion in cash receipts, which was an increase of 24 percent from the 2010 receipt level. Minnesota had about 465,000 dairy cows in 2013, which generated approximately $1.84 billion in cash receipts. In 2013, the State’s beef industry generated $1.67 billion in cash receipts, while the poultry industry provided about $1.21 billion.
  • Minnesota is also the home to several major agriculture and food processing plants, including General Mills, Land O’Lakes, Cargill, CHS, Hormel, and Schwan’s.
  • Minnesota also has several major soybean processing plants, including ADM in Mankato and CHS in Mankato and Fairmont, and has sugar beet processing plants n Renville and Moorhead. The State is also the home to a large dairy processing industry, including AMPI, First District Assn., Dairy Farmers of America, Bongards, Kraft Foods, and Kemps.
  • Minnesota’s ag exports were valued at nearly $8 billion in 2014, which is nearly double the total exports of machinery, which is the next highest export total in the State. Minnesota ranked 4th nationally in the value of agricultural exports, with the top export products being soybeans, corn, feed, and pork, with exports of wheat, dairy products, and beef growing rapidly. The State’s main ag export markets are China, Mexico and Canada.
  • Minnesota ranks 5th in the U.S. in ethanol production, with 21 ethanol plants producing over 1.1 billion gallons of ethanol per year, which includes several ethanol plants in Southern Minnesota. The State also has three biodiesel plants producing nearly 65 million gallons per year of renewable energy.
  • In addition to the direct employment for farm production, Minnesota’s agriculture industry provides an estimated 63,800 jobs in the food processing and manufacturing sector.


Following are some interesting statistics about today’s U.S. Agriculture Industry : 

  • Based on 2016 USDA National Agriculture Statistics (NASS) data, the total number of farms in the U.S. in 2016 was estimated at 2.06 million. Overall, U.S. Farm numbers have been declining since World War II; however, farm numbers have been more stable since 1992.
  • There was a total 911 million acres of land in farms in the U.S. in 2016, which declined about one million acres from 2015, and has declined by just over one percent since 2007. The average U.S. farm size in 2016 was 442 acres, which has been fairly stable in recent years.
  • According to 2016 USDA data, 50 percent of the U.S. farms had gross sales of less than $10,000 per year, and 80 percent of all farms had gross annual sales of less than $100,000. Eight percent of all U.S. farms had gross sales exceeding $500,000 in 2016, and 4 percent of all farms had annual gross sales exceeding 1 million dollars.
  • For the 2016-17 crop year, USDA is estimating that approximately 5.3 billion bushel of corn will be used for U.S. ethanol production. There are approximately 200 operating ethanol plants in the U.S., producing just over 15 billion gallons of ethanol, which is a valuable U.S. fuel source.
  • The S. farmer of today produces enough food and fiber for over 160 people. This number compares to 19 people in 1940, 46 people in 1960, and 115 people in 1980.
  • Farmers receive just over 17 cents of every consumer dollar that is spent on food. The other 83 cents is spent on processing, packaging, marketing, transportation, distribution, and other costs in the retail food supply.
  • One acre of wheat will yield about 50 bushels per acre and will produce over 2,500 loaves of bread, or over 50 loaves of bread per bushel of wheat. If a farmer is paid $4.00 per bushel for wheat from the farm, the wheat cost in a two pound loaf of bread is only about 10 cents per loaf. (Est. retail value of a loaf of bread is about $2.99/loaf).
  • Following is the farmer’s share of some other common food products, and the (Est. Retail Value), as of February, 2017, based on USDA average prices :

Bacon – $.66/lb. ($5.63/lb.); Sirloin Steak – $1.88/lb. ($8.99/lb.); Boneless Ham – $.66/lb. ($3.99/lb.); Milk – $1.62/gal ($4.49/gal.); Eggs – $.81/doz. ($2.19/doz.); Breakfast Cereal – $.05/box ($4.79/box); Potatoes – $.41/five lbs. ($3.49/five lbs.); Tomatoes – $.28/lb. ($3.99/lb.).

As we celebrate National Ag Week, everyone should take time to appreciate the abundant supply of safe and affordable food and energy that is provided by farmers and the U.S. agriculture industry !

(NOTE — Facts listed in this article are from USDA, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, National Farmers Union, American Farm Bureau, National Corn Growers Association, and other sources.)



Note — For additional information contact Kent Thiesse, Farm Management Analyst and

Vice President, MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN.  (Phone — (507) 381-7960);

E-mail — kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com)


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