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Ag Deep-Dive

10 Mind Blowing Facts About The US Farming Industry

The US farming industry plays a large role in our nation’s revenue. The farming sector provides countless entrepreneurial opportunities as well as food and employment for a growing population.

Vast strides have been made in farming technology in recent decades. Between 1948 to 2017, total farm output has nearly tripled. Innovations in farming technology has allowed the US farming industry to become the most efficient food production system in the world. America’s farms contributed $136.1 billion to the GDP, not including agriculture related industries like textiles and value-added food products.

Let's explore a handful of the astonishing facts related to the steady growth and development of the US farming industry.

U.S. Fruit and Tree Nut Industry Products Generate $25 Billion Annually

The fruit and tree nut industry consists of a large variety of crops. This industry of permanent crops makes up 7 percent of total cash receipts for all agricultural commodities and about 13 percent for all crops. Although the production of these crops is relatively high, they only occupy a small portion of U.S. farmland.  The fruit and tree nut takes up only 2 percent of U.S. all agricultural land, yet it generates $25 billion annually.

Tree-nut Value Recently Rose Dramatically to Record Production Value of $10 Billion in Recent Years

Demand for fruit and nut products has increased with population increases and consumer trends. Fruit and tree nuts have recently led growth of horticulture production value. According to recent USDA data, U.S. fruit and tree but produce value has consistently increased over the last decade. Tree nuts have risen to record values of $10 Billion in recent years. Leading the way for tree nut crops increasing in value are almonds, walnuts, and pistachios—all reaching historical highs.

While tree nut value has increased over the past decade, the value of vegetables production has been stable. Tomatoes and potatoes lead the vegetables in production value. Grapes, apples, strawberries, and oranges are the top valued fruits.

U.S. Exports to Canada and Mexico Accounted for 28 Percent of World Exports Over the Last 3 Years

The share of U.S. exports to Canada and Mexico made up 28 percent of world exports over the last 3 years. North America and East Asia combined accounted for nearly 62 percent of U.S. agricultural exports between 2013 to 2015. With a total share of 34%, East Asia—meaning China, Japan, and South Korea-- held the largest market from 2013 to 2015.

98% of Farms are Family Owned

Family farms (farm businesses owned by the operator and individuals within the operator’s family) account for 98% of all U.S. farms. These family farms generate 86 percent of all agricultural products annually. Large family farms are operations that gross over $1 million in revenue yearly. These large family farms make up 44 percent of the farming industry. Smaller family farms, or farms earning less than $1 million in revenue yearly, account for 43 percent of all US farm production.

America’s farm products account for about 0.6 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), contributing $136.1 billion. In the big picture, agriculture plays a much larger role in the GDP because of the industries closely related to production agriculture. Industries like food and beverage manufacturing, food services, restaurants, textiles, and apparel contribute heavily to the farming industry and GDP related to farming. In 2019, agriculture and other related industries that rely on production agriculture accounted for a 5.2 percent share in the U.S. GDP.

Agriculture Provides 10.9% of U.S. Employment

The food and agriculture industry provided 22.2 million full time and part time jobs for Americans in 2019, making agriculture the reason 10.9% of all U.S. employment. Of that total number of jobs, 2.6 million were direct on farm employment opportunities. Employment of off jobs that were related to farming but not directly on the farm, including food related industries, secured another 19.6 million jobs. The remaining agriculture-related industries together contributed another 3.4 million jobs to U.S. citizens.

Americans Spend 13% of Their Household Income on Food Products

The average American spends most of their budget on housing (32.8 percent) and transportation (17.1 percent). Food ranks third for household expenditures with a 13% share. Shares for the top three categories of household spending all fell slightly between 2018 and 2019 while shares for education, insurance, entertainment, and alcoholic beverages slightly rose.

Americans Eat an Average of 18 pounds of Apples Per Year

Americans on average eat 18 pounds of apples in one form or another annually. Apples held the #1 spot for total fruit available for consumption in 2018. For every person in the United States, roughly 10 pounds of fresh apples are available for consumption per person. About 14 pounds of apple juice, or 1.6 gallons, are available for consumption per person and canned, dried, and frozen apples total to 3.1 pounds per person. Apples are a high producing permanent crop and are grown commercially in 36 states.

70% of Tree Nuts and Cotton Produced in the U.S Were Exported in 2011-13

The U.S. is a powerful exporter of agricultural goods. Between 2011-2013, the U.S. averaged a 20 percent export share of agricultural products. Over 50 percent of wheat and rice production was exported and 70% of U.S. tree nuts (mostly almonds) and cotton were exported between 2011 and 2013. In that time frame, all US agricultural products averaged a 20 percent share in exports.

California's Crop Products Valued More than $30 Billion in 2012

California is home to a robust horticulture industry, putting it in the lead for U.S. crop values. California’s landscape and climate allow a wide variety of crop growing opportunities that play a significant role in the state’s overall economy. The top five states with the highest value crop sales are California, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Nebraska. Of these top five states, California ranks the highest in overall crop value at $30 Billion in 2012. California ranks 75 percent more than the state second in line, Iowa.

The impressive productivity and efficiency of the US farming industry continues to grow with global demand. Innovations in farming technology and practices have increased per acre returns and make it possible to feed more people from the same amount of land. The higher per acre returns as a result of farming technology improvements has increased farm real estate values, created exciting opportunities for farmland investing, and made the US farming sector a vital asset to global food growth.

To find out more about farmland investing with FarmTogether, you can check out our FAQ. When you’re ready to start, you can create a FarmTogether account and be paired with one of our investing experts right away.


Disclaimer: FarmTogether is not a registered broker-dealer, investment adviser or investment manager. FarmTogether does not provide tax, legal or investment advice. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. You should consult your own tax, legal and investment advisors before engaging in any transaction.

Sara Spaventa