The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.
Welcome to America’s Dairyland! It is simply impossible to talk about Wisconsin agriculture without immediately bringing up our dairy sector. After all, as the 2012 Census of Agriculture results showed, 16.5 percent of all farms in our state have milk cows.
Wisconsin has significantly more dairy farms at 11,543 than any other state. We are also one of only two states with more than one million milk cows. And, of course, who can forget about Wisconsin cheese? As NASS’ Dairy Products reports point out every year, Wisconsin farmers produce more cheese than any other state, producing more than 25 percent of all cheese in the United States. That’s nearly 3 billion pounds of cheese a year!
Of course Wisconsin farming is more than just dairy. Our farmers are also the top cranberry growers in the nation. According to the latest census, our farmers harvested more than 20,000 acres of these berries. Lesser known is that our farmers are also responsible for most of the U.S. ginseng production.
Wisconsin is also the #1 state when it comes to corn for silage production. That’s not surprising considering the size of our livestock industry. Overall, we had nearly 3.5 million head in our cattle and calve herd in 2012. We also have nearly 3.5 million turkeys and more than 13 million chickens.
All of these sides of our agriculture are tended to by just under 70,000 farmers. In 2012, this relatively small group cared for of more than 14.5 million acres of Wisconsin land and sold more than $11.7 billion worth of agricultural products. It costs quite a bit to raise these products with production expenses surpassing $9.4 billion in 2012. Clearly farmers love taking care of land and they love farming itself.
There are even more interesting sides of Wisconsin agriculture that the 2012 Census data highlight, so feel free to check it out at www.agcensus.usda.gov.