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High-Tech Agriculture Continues to Reap Rewards for Farmers and Society

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Just like a smart phone helps users learn, communicate and make important decisions, smart technology—known as precision agriculture—helps farmers know and apply critical information about the right investments in fertilizer, seed, pesticide and water needed to produce their crops. Through new technologies, farmers produce more efficiently and see an increase in profits while improving stewardship of ecosystems and local communities.

To talk about precision agriculture is to talk about mapping the amount of a crop grown per acre (yield) or the types of soils in a given area. It also includes the technology that automatically guides farm machines and controls variables like the rates of seeds, fertilizers or chemicals.

U.S. Soybeans Help Feed the World

It takes more than just a bountiful harvest to succeed in today’s agricultural marketplace.  Many farmers find strength in numbers by pooling resources and expertise to grow and sustain their businesses in both the U.S. and international markets. For soybean farmers, the United Soybean Board (USB) works to maintain and expand domestic and foreign markets and uses for soybeans and soybean products.

Working through the U.S. Soybean Export Council, the USB annually conducts about 140 projects in international markets to promote U.S. soy products.  Comprising 70 soybean farmers, the USB facilitates trade servicing and technical support programs with importers, processors, livestock producers, and aquaculture operations.  Another important component of the soybean marketing effort is to invite international buyers, processors, and other users of U.S. soy products to the United States to understand and see firsthand the U.S. soybean production, processing, distribution and transportation systems.

South Dakota Becoming an Agriculture Powerhouse

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.

South Dakota is growing to be quite an agricultural powerhouse, as the most recent Census of Agriculture results showed. In 2012, the year for which the latest Census was conducted, our farmers and ranchers sold more than $10 billion worth of agricultural products. That’s an incredible 55 percent increase from 2007 Census of Agriculture.

Our farms are also defying a downward national trend. While the number of farms is decreasing in most states, in South Dakota, our farm numbers actually grew by 3 percent between the 2007 and 2012 censuses of agriculture. As of 2012, there are nearly 32,000 farms in The Mount Rushmore State.

Kentucky Agriculture - Snapshot of Bluegrass State Farming

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.

Kentucky and cattle have always been a perfect match, and as the most recent Census of Agriculture shows that bond remains to this day. In 2012, the year for which we conducted the Census, Kentucky farmers sold more than $1 billion worth of cattle and calves.

Beef cattle production has become an increasingly important sector for many farms transitioning away from tobacco production. Overall, about half of all farms in Kentucky owned cattle in 2012. That’s not surprising, considering we have some of the best cattle pasture in the United States.

Farming Going Strong in Kansas According to #AgCensus

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.

The Kansas state seal and state flag both feature a farmer, and looking at the results of the most recent Census of Agriculture, it is not hard to see why. In 2012, the year for which the Census was conducted, there were almost 62,000 farms covering more than 46 million acres of land in Kansas. That year Kansas producers sold close to $18.5 billion worth of agricultural products.

Crops have long been a symbol of Kansas farming. According to the Census, in 2012 Kansans produced almost 360 million bushels of winter wheat from more than 9 million harvested acres. More than 20 percent of all winter wheat in the U.S. that year came from Kansas – more than double both the acreage and production of Oklahoma which was the second-largest winter wheat producer in the nation.

Catfish Continues to Swim to the Top of U.S. Aquaculture and Mississippi Agriculture

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.

Mississippi, commonly called the “Magnolia State", has long been one of the most rural states in the United States. However, agriculture makes significant contributions to all of Mississippi’s 82 counties. Agriculture is a leading industry in Mississippi. According to the latest Census of Agriculture, our farmers generated $6.4 billion in market value of agricultural products sold in 2012, a 32 percent increase from the last census.

The census counted almost 11 million acres of farmland, down 5 percent from the 2007 Census. The average farm size increased to 287 acres, up 5 percent from 2007. The highest concentration of cropland is located in the Delta Area of the State.

Tennessee Farmers Play Strong Role in State's Economy

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.

Since 1801, Tennessee’s motto has been “Agriculture and Commerce,” and as we see in the latest Census of Agriculture results, our farmers do their part to stay true to it. In 2012, our state’s farmers and ranchers sold more than $3.6 billion worth of agricultural products.

Cattle is the largest sector of Tennessee’s farming industry. More than half of our state’s 68,050 farms raise cattle. The 2012 Ag Census counted more than 1.8 million head of cattle on 38,826 farms. Of these farms, 979 focused on dairy while 33,556 were beef cattle farms. This is also why our farmers spent nearly $680 million on feed purchases in 2012. Feed was by far the largest expense for our farmers in 2012.

Training Empowers Ag Boards to Recruit the Next Generation of Farmers

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden, and all of USDA are committed to supporting the next generation of farmers and ranchers and promoting diversity and inclusion in all sectors of agriculture. As Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), I had the pleasure of advancing these important priorities during our Research and Promotion Program (R&P) board diversity and inclusion training session, held in Northern Virginia prior to the 2015 Agricultural Outlook Forum.

Meeting participants – including more than 50 board members and board staff from 20 of the 22 R&P boards that we oversee, AMS employees, and representatives of Certified Nominating Organizations – gathered to tackle a serious issue: how to recruit talented and diverse board members who are representative of the industries they serve. The R&P boards allow farmers and ranchers to pool their resources and set common goals to develop new markets and strengthen current markets for the commodities they grow or handle.

Old Dominion Agriculture by Numbers

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.

Nothing can compare to the economic impact agriculture has in Virginia. 2012 Census of Agriculture counted more than 46,000 farms, which cover more than 8.3 million acres of farmland in the commonwealth. That’s nearly a third of our entire state! In fact, according to Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, agriculture is our state’s largest industry.

In the most recent census, Virginia farmers reported selling more than $3.7 billion worth of agricultural products. Of these, most came from the livestock sector. Broiler chickens were the top commodity sold in 2012, the year of the latest Census of Agriculture. That year, growers sold $638.3 million worth of broiler hens.

Farming at the Crossroads of America

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.

The 2012 Census of Agriculture results are out and, just as many predicted, Indiana agriculture continues to grow. True to our state's motto, "The Crossroads of America," the state of Indiana has a very diverse agriculture. The Hoosier State is a large contributor of corn, soybeans, tomatoes, ducks, milk, hogs, chickens and turkeys. And these are just a few of many commodities produced in Indiana.

According to the census results, there are 58,695 farms (ranking 7th nationally) on 14,720,396 acres of farm land in Indiana. Even though 2012 was a drought year, Indiana ranked 10th nationally in total sales by topping $11 billion, a 36 percent increase from just five years ago, which was the last time my agency conducted the Census of Agriculture. We also ranked 7th nationally in crop sales with just over $7.5 billion and 18th nationally in livestock sales with just over $3.6 billion.