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The Most Valuable Agricultural Commodity in Each State

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The Most Valuable Agricultural Commodity in Each State

The Most Valuable Agricultural Commodity in Each State

The United States has an incredible amount of geographic diversity.

From the fertile farmland of the Great Plains to the volcanic islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, each state has been dealt a unique geographical hand.

Each geographical setting can be the source of economic opportunities, such as tourism or the development of natural resources. It also partially dictates what kind of agricultural choices are available for farmers and local economies.

A Higher Level Look

Today’s infographic comes to us from HowMuch.net, and it color codes each state based on the most valuable agricultural commodity it produces, based on data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

At a big picture level, how does the country break down?

Most Valuable Agricultural CommodityNumber of States
Grains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas16
Poultry and eggs9
Cattle and calves7
Milk from cows7
Nursery, greenhouse, floriculture and sod4
Fruit, tree nuts, and berries3
Vegetables, melons, potatoes and sweet potatoes2
Aquaculture1
Other crops and hay1

Broadly speaking, the category of “Grains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas” is the most valuable agricultural commodity in 16 states, while aquaculture was the most important in only one state, which is Alaska.

It’s interesting that there are niches that end up deriving massive amounts of value in only a few states. For example, the category of “Fruit, tree nuts, and berries” is the biggest in just three states, but California makes $17.6 billion from it every year – more than the size of the entire agricultural sector of some states.

State by State Data

Finally, here’s a look at the data for each state in a sortable table:

RankStateAgricultural CommodityValue
#1CaliforniaFruit, tree nuts, and berries$17,638,972,000
#2IowaGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$17,146,679,000
#3IllinoisGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$13,589,230,000
#4TexasCattle and calves$13,013,127,000
#5MinnesotaGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$12,304,415,000
#6NebraskaGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$10,698,861,000
#7KansasCattle and calves$10,153,087,000
#8North DakotaGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$8,813,348,000
#9IndianaGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$7,217,854,000
#10OhioGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$5,834,600,000
#11South DakotaGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$5,809,792,000
#12WisconsinMilk from cows$4,952,039,000
#13North CarolinaPoultry and eggs$4,837,026,000
#14GeorgiaPoultry and eggs$4,773,837,000
#15ColoradoCattle and calves$4,321,308,000
#16ArkansasGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$4,214,355,000
#17MissouriGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$3,922,873,000
#18AlabamaPoultry and eggs$3,624,852,000
#19MichiganGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$3,613,250,000
#20OklahomaCattle and calves$3,402,919,000
#21WashingtonFruit, tree nuts, and berries$2,931,370,000
#22MississippiPoultry and eggs$2,744,048,000
#23New YorkMilk from cows$2,417,398,000
#24IdahoMilk from cows$2,333,364,000
#25PennsylvaniaMilk from cows$1,966,892,000
#26FloridaFruit, tree nuts, and berries$1,847,805,000
#27LouisianaGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$1,832,208,000
#28MontanaGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$1,787,162,000
#29KentuckyGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$1,656,983,000
#30South CarolinaPoultry and eggs$1,476,817,000
#31TennesseeGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$1,301,303,000
#32New MexicoMilk from cows$1,251,065,000
#33VirginiaPoultry and eggs$1,161,564,000
#34WyomingCattle and calves$1,101,195,000
#35MarylandPoultry and eggs$922,999,000
#36OregonCattle and calves$894,485,000
#37DelawarePoultry and eggs$811,301,000
#38ArizonaVegetables, melons, potatoes and sweet potatoes$764,062,000
#39VermontMilk from cows$504,884,000
#40New JerseyNursery, greenhouse, floriculture and sod$405,247,000
#41West VirginiaPoultry and eggs$401,439,000
#42UtahCattle and calves$364,214,000
#43NevadaOther crops and hay$280,554,000
#44ConnecticutNursery, greenhouse, floriculture and sod$252,923,000
#45MaineVegetables, melons, potatoes and sweet potatoes$207,254,000
#46HawaiiGrains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas$152,930,000
#47MassachusettsNursery, greenhouse, floriculture and sod$144,188,000
#48New HampshireMilk from cows$54,798,000
#49Rhode IslandNursery, greenhouse, floriculture and sod$32,831,000
#50AlaskaAquaculture$29,774,000

As the legal cannabis industry continues to take off, it’ll be interesting to see if the USDA incorporates that crop into its rankings in future years.

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Environment

Mapped: How Much of the World is Covered by Croplands?

Where are the world’s croplands located? This detailed map highlights the world’s cropland cover as of 2019.

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Detailed map of the world’s cropland cover as of 2019.

Mapping Cropland Cover Around the World

Over the last 50 years, the world’s human population worldwide has grown exponentially.

And this population explosion brought greater food production needs with it, through livestock breeding, cropland expansion, and other increases in land use.

But how evenly is this land distributed globally? In this graphic, Adam Symington maps global croplands as of 2019, based on a 2021 scientific paper published in Nature by Peter Potapov et al.

The World’s Croplands

Croplands are defined as land areas used to cultivate herbaceous crops for human consumption, forage, and biofuel. At the start of the 21st century, the world’s croplands spread across 1,142 million hectares (Mha) of land.

Some of these croplands have since been abandoned, lost in natural disasters, or repurposed for housing, irrigation, and other infrastructural needs.

Despite this, the creation of new croplands increased overall cropland cover by around 9% and the net primary (crop) production by 25%.

Africa and South America Lead Croplands Expansion

In 2019, croplands occupied 1,244 Mha of land worldwide, with the largest regions being Europe and North Asia and Southwest Asia at around 20% of total cover each.

Interestingly, even though Africa (17%) and South America (9%) held lower percentages of the world’s croplands, they saw the highest expansion in croplands since 2000:

RegionCropland Area
(Mha, 2000–03)
Cropland Area
(Mha, 2016–19)
Change (Mha)
Africa155.1208.3+53.2
South America75.5112.6+37.1
Southwest Asia237.3244.8+7.5
Australia and New Zealand37.340.3+3.0
North and Central America192.1193.9+1.8
Europe and North Asia252.3253.2+0.9
Southeast Asia192.7191.1-1.6
World1,142.31,244.2+101.9

South American nations including Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay witnessed a steep rise in crop production between 2000 and 2007. Agricultural growth in the region can be attributed to both modern agricultural technology adoption and the production of globally demanded crops like soybeans.

A similar expansion in croplands within Sub-Saharan African countries at the start of the 21st century continues to persist today, as producers ramp up crop production for both exports and to try and alleviate food scarcity.

Much of these the world’s croplands were once forests, drylands, plains, and lowlands. And this loss in green cover is clearly seen across Africa, South America, and parts of Asia.

However, some regions have also witnessed tree plantations, orchards, and aquaculture replacing former croplands. One such example is Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, and indeed Southeast Asia was the only region that saw an overall decline in cropland cover from 2000 to 2019.

Moving Towards Sustainable Agriculture

The expansion of croplands has also come at a cost, destroying large stretches of forest cover, and further contributing to wildlife fragmentation and greenhouse gas emissions.

However, hope for more sustainable development is not lost. Nations are finding ways to improve agricultural productivity in ways that free up land.

As global demand for food continues to increase, agricultural expansion and intensification seem imminent. But innovation, and a changing climate, may elevate alternative solutions in the future.

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