While UFO spotting on the Alien Highway and non-stop entertainment in Las Vegas beckon people all over the world to Nevada, many might miss out on the thriving agricultural community that lives and works throughout every county in the state. According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, over 3,400 farm operations cover more than 6.1 million acres or 8.7 percent of the Silver State. The average farm size in Nevada--1,790 acres--is the third largest average for all U.S. states. When compared to Nevada’s median state farm size of 42 acres (half the farms above this acreage, half below), the data indicate there are some BIG operations here.
Though our number of agricultural operations decreased by 17 percent from 2012 to 2017, the total land in farms increased by 4 percent. In 2017, Nevada’s agriculture sector contributed $665.7 million to the state’s economy in direct receipts. The three largest contributors were cattle and calves at 49 percent, dairy at 18 percent, and hay at 18 percent.
What does agriculture look like in Nevada? The top counties with land in farms are Elko, Humboldt, Eureka, Washoe, and Pershing. Agriculture grows throughout the state, but Elko (PDF, 911 KB), in the most northeastern corner, is the top county with 2.2 million acres in farm land. That’s out of this world! Ag Census data show 93 percent of Nevada farms are family farms and 83 percent have internet access.
Where water’s available, the state’s high desert topography and climate lends itself well to production of some of the highest protein high-value alfalfa in the country, much of it exported outside Nevada and overseas. The state has more than 5,000 acres dedicated to producing alfalfa seed stock overseen by the Nevada Department of Agriculture’s Seed Certification Program.
According to the Census of Agriculture, 11 Nevada farms grew over 4 million pounds of Alfalfa seed in 2017. Locally-grown food thrives as Nevada Grown farms inspire Las Vegas retailers and others to buy local and buy fresh. Agricultural operations in southern Nevada supply casinos and other eating establishments on the Las Vegas Strip with locally grown meat, fruit and veggies, and the area is home to a large-scale pork production facility which ‘harvests’ those establishment’s edible leftovers for feed.
Want to learn more about the things we grow in Nevada? Visit the Nevada 2017 Census of Agriculture State and County Profiles, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-353-3714. Here in the Silver State, We Grow Things!