Agriculture Statistics

(Updated June 2022)

Here in the midwest, agriculture is kind of a big deal. We all need to eat, and unless we all have self sustaining homestead farms, we can’t do that without farmers. Today at The Barbecue Lab, we will talk about agriculture statistics. 

Agriculture Quick Facts

  • Agriculture is the science of farming - cultivating the soil to grow crops or using land to raise animals.
  • Farming and agriculture accounts for 1% of America’s Gross Domestic Product.
  • The United States produces 40% of the world’s crops using 20% of the land.
  • With advances in technology, an American farmer now feeds an average of 165 people, 60 years ago they could feed 25.
  • 40.5% of U.S. land is involved in agriculture, which is around 915 million acres. 
  • 98% of the 2 million farms are family owned and operated but the industry is controlled by 3% of farms.
  • Agriculture makes up about 11% of the United States’ employment.
  • 25% of agriculture products valued at around $100 billion are exported from the United States.

What are agricultural statistics?

Farming and agriculture accounts for 1% of America’s GDP. With advances in technology and globalization, America produces 40% of the world’s crops using 20% of the land, helping in the fight against world hunger. The average American farmer feeds 165 people, while just 60 years ago, they fed about 25 people. The US exports 25% of their agriculture products, worth about $100 billion. ⅓ of US exports are exported to Canada and China. 

What percent of America is involved in agriculture?

According to the most recent data analysis from the United States Department of Agriculture (UDSA), roughly 40.5% of U.S. land is involved in agriculture - around 915 million acres.  The total farmland is valued at $2 trillion dollars. There are over 2 million farms in the U.S, and the average farm size is 443 acres. 98% of US farms are family owned and operated. Texas contains 14% of the United States’ farming land, and there are 39 states that have at least 11,000 farms. 

pie chart showing the distribution of farmland in the US

Agriculture and related industries make up about 11% of the US employment, and there are roughly 24 million jobs in the agriculture industry and 950k Americans work in farming. 40% of the total world populated works in agriculture. 

Crops

  • The United States produces 40% of the world’s crops using 20% of the land. America’s farmers produce crops like wheat, corn, soybeans, cotton, fruits and vegetables, as well as beef, pork, poultry, eggs, and dairy. 50.2 million acres of cropland is used for wheat. 
  • America grows, on average, 15 billion bushels of corn per year, making it ⅓ of all the corn produced in the world. In 2019, 28 million bushels of corn were produced. Most of the corn produced is not used for direct human consumption, but for animal feed and other products. 75% of the revenue within the agricultural industry is from meat sales and animal feed. 
  • America produces 41% of the world's soybeans with the 89.2 million acres that are planted each year. Soybeans and corn are made into several different types of products besides food. In fact, over 80,000 newspapers in the United States use soy ink to print.
  • Texas produces 33% of the cotton in the United States, and produced 6.42 million bales in 2019. The average 12 million bales of cotton are produced per year and make 5 billion pairs of jeans.
  • There are 619,172 beef farming operations in America, and these farms account for 19% of the world’s beef. 97% of beef farms are family owned and operated and are located throughout all 50 states.

Advances in Agriculture

Advances in farming means that we can also produce more crops with less land but it also means that many small family farms are unable to make ends meet due to two main factors, technology and globalization. In 1991, small family farms accounted for almost half of food production. As recently as 2017, now they only account for a quarter. Most small operation farmers have to take on a second job.

The agricultural industry is mostly controlled by large or very large farming operations, which make up only 3% of the 2,029,200 farms in the United States.

Sadly, only 41% of small farms make a profit each year and over 50% of American farmers have lost money every year since 2013. Farmers receive about 12 cents for every dollar spent on produce. 58% of farms sell less than $10,000 produce and farming products each year.

Between 2017-2018, America has lost over 12,000 farms. The average age of the American farmer is getting older at 57 years old, perhaps because the industry is not as lucrative as other career paths unless you “make it big.” 

bar graph showing average farm size by year

However, since people are wanting to have non GMO food that is free from pesticides, there has been an increase in organic farming. It has risen 56% since 2011. It is thought that eating organically grown produce can help reduce food allergies or cancer, and time will tell if that is the case. 

Food Waste Statistics


Resources and Downloads

Data Sources

  • Olioex.com
  • fao.org
  • unenvironment.org
  • weforum.org
  • ozharvest.org
  • moveforhunger.org
  • renzell.com
  • theworldcounts.com
  • statista.com
  • wfpusa.org
  • respectfood.com
  • brandsforcanada.com
  • refed.com
  • nextgenerationfood.com
  • rivercottage.net
  • recycledevon.org
  • businessinsider.com
  • uspackagingandwrapping.com