Celebrating the Agriculture Industry

March 19, 2018


“National Ag Week” is being celebrated March 18-24 in Minnesota, as well as across the United States, with Tuesday, March 20, 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 73,200 farms in 2017, which compares to 80,992 farms as recently as 2007. Minnesota ranks 9th in total farm numbers, with the top five states being Texas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, and California.
  • 47,800 of the Minnesota farms in 2017, or 65 percent, had gross sales of less than $100,000.00 for the year, while 5,300 farms, representing only 7 percent of the total farms, had gross sales exceeding $1 million in 2017.
  • Approximately 88 percent of Minnesota’s farms are family or individually owned, while another 10 percent of farms are partnerships and corporations, mostly held by families.
  • There were approximately 25.9 million acres of land in production in Minnesota during 2017, which is about at the same level as for the four previous years (2013-2016).
  • The average farm size in Minnesota in 2017 was 354 acres, which is up one acre from 2016, and compares to 348 acres in 2013.
  • Minnesota crop production accounted for over $9.5 billion in total production value in 2017, which was led by corn at $4.5 billion and soybeans at $3.5 billion.
    • Minnesota typically 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 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.
    • Minnesota ranked 4th nationally in total ag exports, trailing only California, Iowa and Illinois. The State’s exports were valued at over $7.1 billion in 2016, 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 Canada, Mexico and China.
    • Minnesota ranks 4th in the U.S. in ethanol production, with 20 ethanol plants producing over 1.2 billion gallons of ethanol per year, which includes several ethanol plants in Southern Minnesota.

Minnesota’s ethanol industry generates an estimated $6.7 billion in economic output, as well as being responsible for more than 17,900 jobs. Iowa leads the nation with 43 ethanol plants, which produce nearly 4.2 billion gallons of ethanol annually.

  • According to a recent survey, 4 in 5 Minnesotans say that farming is very important to the Minnesota economy, and 75 percent of Minnesotans have a positive view of farmers, even though only 38 percent indicated that they actually know a farmer.
  • Based on the annual Farm Business Management Summary of over 1,100 operations in Southern and Western Minnesota, the average farm spent a total of nearly $845,000 in 2016 on crop and livestock input costs, hired labor, interest expense, real estate taxes, capital purchases, and family living expense. Most of those dollars were spent in the regional community.
  • In a recent survey, over 95 percent of Minnesota residents, and a similar percentage of the State’s farmers, believe that protecting Minnesota’s water resources is important.
  • 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 2017 USDA National Agriculture Statistics (NASS) data, the total number of farms in the U.S. in 2017 was estimated at 2.05 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 910 million acres of land in farms in the U.S. in 2017, which declined about one million acres from 2016, and has declined by over one percent since 2007. The average U.S. farm size in 2017 was 444 acres, which has increased slightly in recent years.
  • According to 2017 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 2017, and less than 4 percent of all farms had annual gross sales exceeding 1 million dollars.
  • For the 2017-18 crop year, USDA is estimating that approximately 5.5 billion bushels of corn will be used for U.S. ethanol production. There are 201 operating ethanol plants in the U.S., producing just over 16.2 billion gallons of ethanol.
  • The S. farmer of today produces enough food and fiber for about 165 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 of the food dollar 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 $4.50 per bushel for wheat from the farm, the wheat cost in a two-pound loaf of bread is only about 11 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, 2018, based on USDA average prices :

Bacon – $.66/lb. ($5.63/lb.); Sirloin Steak – $1.90/lb. ($8.99/lb.); Boneless Ham – $.66/lb. ($5.99/lb.); Milk – $1.48/gal ($4.49/gal.); Eggs – $1.34/doz. ($2.19/doz.); Breakfast Cereal – $.05/box ($5.09/box); Potatoes – $.57/five lbs. ($4.49/five lbs.); Tomatoes – $.80/lb. ($4.51/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 Senior

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

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


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