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.
Thanks to the fertile lands along the Missouri river, farming has always had a major presence in the Show Me State. As of 2012, only Texas has more farms than Missouri. The latest Census of Agriculture counted more than 99,000 farms in our state, which produced more than $9 billion in agricultural products, nearly equally divided between crop and livestock products.
Missouri farmers are always looking for innovative ways to connect our state’s residents with local agriculture and to find new markets. That’s why, in 2012, there were nearly 4,000 farms selling value-added products, such as cheese, preserves, or locally-produced wine. That year, 844 farms in Missouri also offered agritourism and other recreational services, such as hay rides. And for those residents who want to receive fresh local products, Missouri also had 291 farms participating in the local community-supported agriculture programs.
While Missouri agriculture has a nice mixture of locally-produced commodities, it is our soybean growers who really stand out. In 2012, soybeans were the largest single commodity grown in Missouri. That year our growers sold nearly $2 billion worth of this crop. The 2012 Census of Agriculture counted nearly 20,000 Missouri farms that produced soybeans.
Two major local crops found in southeast Missouri are rice and cotton. In 2012, our farmers produced more than 1.2 billion pounds of rice valued at more than $150 million, putting Missouri in fourth place in the nation when it comes to this important commodity. And all of this was achieved by only 386 farms on 175,000 acres. Likewise, just 409 cotton farms produced 722,000 bales of cotton. Cotton sales were $249 million, ninth highest among states.
The livestock industry also has a very strong presence in Missouri. In 2012, the ag census counted more than 53,000 farms with more than 3.7 million head of cattle or calves. Missouri also ranked number one in the nation when it came to farms that raised or sold veal in 2012.
The best thing is that with all of these numbers you don’t have to simply take my word for it. You can easily check out these Census of Agriculture numbers online. Or, feel free to visit our grand state to see our farms and ranches firsthand. After all, there’s a reason Missouri is known as the Show Me State.