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A look at the agriculture of Minnesota in 7 diagrams

Minnesota remains one of the country's most important agricultural states, even as the number of farms continues to decline, according to data released by the US Department of Agriculture on Thursday.

The USDA carries out an agricultural census every five years. The data released on Thursday are from 2017. The census is actually a survey that was self-reported by farmers returning a questionnaire to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

In 2017, Minnesota reached first place in the sale of cereals such as corn, soybeans, oilseeds and dry peas. It reached the second place in the pork sales and the fourth place in the milk sales. All ag products sales in 2017 were $ 18.4 billion, according to USDA.

The Federal Government has collected agricultural data since 1840 – since 1982, the survey is forwarded to farmers throughout the country every five years. This is particularly helpful in tracking trends, said Dan Lofthus, Minnesota's USDA state official.

"Has the average farm size continued to rise, did it stay the same, did it sink?" All of these types of trends are interesting because they give people a sense of overall well-being, health or liveliness farming on each of these different ones Levels, "he said.

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• National: Agriculture report shows fewer but larger farms in the US.

"I think the biggest benefit overall is the fact that you have truly comprehensive information that is very local to anyone who is interested," said Lofthus. "So it's local to the county you live in. And in that county you can describe what agriculture looks like from 2017 onwards."

You could compare this data with other data from 1860, when Minnesota only counted farms larger than three acres and reported 17,990 farms. At that time, most were less than 50 acres. In 2017, there were an estimated 68,822 farms of all sizes in Minnesota and the average farm size was 371 hectares.

In 1860, farmers in Minnesota produced 2,957,673 pounds of butter; 2,186,993 bushels of wheat; 34,285 pounds of honey; 38,938 pounds of tobacco and 52 pounds of silk cocoons on its diverse list of agricultural products. In 2017, Minnesota produced 79,313,000 bushels of wheat, 7,653,535 pounds of honey, more than 12 million tons of sugar beet, and harvested over 16 million hectares of soybean and grain crops.

Today, data collected by farmers help develop marketing strategies for agribusinesses that deliver what farmers need to grow crops or run livestock.

"The Farm Census offers all these companies and agribusiness companies the opportunity to conduct market research and review their strategy so that they are able to provide the things that farmers need – in the right amount and at the right time," said Lofthus.

• Relatives: Farmers in South MN are testing soil health with spilled underwoods
• Dirty: Healthy soil movements gain ground in agricultural land

Some of the trends that Lofthus might find interesting for this year are hot topics, such as: B. Cover crops – a crop grown not for production but to maintain soil health. It also provides an overview of other conservation practices that farmers use as a means of improving soil health and water quality.

"I think something else is very interesting for people, it's some of the demographics and a little more detail on who makes decisions on farms," ​​he said. "So whether it's a beginner, a female farmer, or a farmer with military experience, all these different things can give insight into agriculture in Minnesota."

According to the USDA, nearly three-quarters of farmers participated in the 2017 census. Here is a snapshot of agriculture data in Minnesota.

1) The number of Minnesota farms continues to decline, the average farm size is increasing

The number of farms in Minnesota has decreased and is the lowest in a decade. Minnesota has an estimated 68,822 businesses of all sizes and types in 2017. The USDA asks manufacturers who have sold $ 1,000 or more to participate in the surveys. Although the number of arable land used for arable land has decreased somewhat, the average farm size now stands at 371 acres, the highest level reached in a decade.

2) Milk and pig farms continue their consolidation

Minnesota remains one of the top pig and dairy countries – # 2 for pork sales and # 4 for US milk sales. It is difficult to gain a foothold in the dairy industry with low milk prices and surplus milk.

In Minnesota, the number of dairy cows has declined over the last decade, but not as much as the number of farms. The number of pigs in the state has increased while the number of pig farms has fallen. In Minnesota, there are now less than half as many dairy and pig farms as in 1997, according to USDA surveys.

3) The size of the Minnesota farms is very different

An estimated 14,000 farms in Minnesota have 49 acres or less, but depending on what the farm is growing or growing, that's big enough. In contrast, farms that produce corn, soybeans, wheat and other grains can be more than 2,000 hectares. Farmers can increase their size by either buying more land or renting from neighbors.

4) Where the farmland dominates the landscape

In many of the 87 counties of Minnesota, the farmland dominates the landscape. In one-third of Minnesota counties, farmland occupies more than 75 percent of the land area. The western and southern halves of the state are at the forefront of arable land. In Traverse, Martin and Renville County, the farmland occupies 95 percent of the land area – the highest percentage in the state.

Where do not you find many row crops? There are only a few acres of cultivated land in northeastern Minnesota and the Ramsey district compared to the rest of the state.

5) Conservation practices are becoming more popular

Agriculture has been paying more attention to conservation in recent years. More and more farmers grow cover crops that are planted alongside crops such as corn and soybeans to keep the land green longer. Cover cultures can promote soil health and improve water quality.

• Related: A sold-out conference on soil health? Absolutely, farmers say

More farmers are also seeking conservation tillage or no-till, which prevents erosion and promotes soil health. On the other hand, farmers add more drainage beneath their fields, which can help them dry their fields faster in wet periods. Tiles can help farmers increase their yield and be more resistant to heavy rain, but there are concerns about water quality and flooding. The USDA surveyed farmers on the subject for the first time in 2012.

6) Minnesota farmers are mostly men, but that changes

The number of women as a primary producer is increasing. Farmers are getting older. The average age in 2017 was 58 years.

7) The farmers in Minnesota are mostly white

This is a snapshot of racial demographic information about people involved in running farms in Minnesota. In the 2017 USDA Census, terminology and definitions have changed for many demographic categories, making it difficult to compare data across different census years.

• Learn more about farming in MN: The Organic Farming Program opens doors for Somali-American breeders


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