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2017 Missouri Census of Agriculture: Show Me the Numbers

Posted by Bob Garino, Missouri State Statistician, National Agricultural Statistics Service in Research and Science
Aug 13, 2019
The elderberry
The elderberry, long cultivated as a healthy berry, is gaining interest among Missouri farmers.

For anyone who wants to see the facts about Missouri agriculture, the 2017 Census of Agriculture is the place to look, with more than 60,000 facts covering every aspect of Missouri agriculture at the state and county levels.

To begin with, Missouri had 95,320 farms in 2017, second in number only to Texas. Those farms covered 27.8 million acres, 63 percent of the land in Missouri. Though the majority of land, 15.6 million acres, is cropland, Missouri had 6.9 million acres of pastureland and over 4 million acres of woodland on farms.

On those farms were 162,345 farmers. About one-third of farmers were female, two-thirds were male. Young farmers, age 35 years or less, made up 10 percent of farmers. About 25 percent of farmers were considered new and beginning farmers, being involved with farming 10 years or less. A little more than 10 percent of farmers were veterans of the military.

Though Missouri farms produce a wide variety of products, five commodities made up about 88 percent of the $10.5 billion in farm sales for 2017. Those commodities were soybeans, corn, cattle, poultry, and hogs. Missouri was among the top 10 states in sales for all of these commodities.


Value of Sales ($)

Rank Among States
















Missouri's top five agricultural commodities accounted for 88 percent of farm sales in 2017.

Since the 2012 Census of Agriculture, Missouri has seen changes offering opportunities for both current and new farmers. Still a small part of Missouri agriculture, organic farm sales increased by 450 percent from 2012 to over $66 million. Likewise, the number of farms with bees for honey collection were up 121 percent at 1,240 farms. Milk goats increased by 25 percent to over 17,000, making Missouri fifth in the U.S. for number of milk goats. The area devoted to mushroom growing was 260 percent greater in 2017 than in 2012, ranking Missouri 11th among the states. The value of food sold directly from farms to consumers increased 50 percent from $20 million to $30 million. Missouri was the biggest elderberry (published for the first time) growing state in country in 2017, with 47 percent of U.S. acres.

Conservation practices on Missouri farms continued to increase. Farmers practiced conservation tillage on over 8 million acres and convention tillage on about 2 million acres in 2017. The acres planted with a cover crop more than doubled versus the 2012 census to almost 850,000 acres. Additionally, renewable energy production on the farm was up 2.5 times from 2012 to 2017. Close to 5 percent of Missouri farms had some form of renewable energy, such as solar panels, wind turbines, or methane digesters.

If you want to know more about Missouri farms and farmers, such as the average farm size (291 acres), the average age of farmers (57.4 years), the biggest agricultural county by farm sales (Barry), the number of farms with beef cows (48,122) and many other facts, please visit 2017 Census of Agriculture and USDA NASS will show you the numbers.

Category/Topic: Research and Science