From an abundance of production to agritourism destinations and education, the Show Me State has a great agricultural tradition and a bright future.
Missouri is home to more than 100,000 farms, covering two-thirds of the state’s total land acreage and supporting many of the state’s top agricultural commodities including soybeans, corn, cattle and calves, hogs, and turkeys. On average, Missouri farms are about 269 acres – or about the size of 300 football fields – and nearly all are family owned and operated.
Missouri’s terrain contributes greatly to its agricultural diversity. Fertile soil, great for growing crops, is plentiful across the state. The Ozark Plateau, the largest part of Missouri, is covered in forested hills and known for its large lakes and clear rivers. In the bootheel region, appropriately named for its distinctive shape, rich farmland supports crops ranging from cotton and rice to corn and soybeans. This varied terrain allows the state to produce many different and unexpected crops including several unique grape varieties that make rich, flavorful Missouri wines.
That fertile land aids in the production of Missouri’s top crops – soybeans and corn. In 2011, Missouri soybean production totaled 190 million bushels, with farmers harvesting more than 5.2 million acres. The state ranked seventh in the nation in 2010. Those crops also support millions of cattle, horses, hogs and other livestock. Missouri is home to more than 200,000 horses and 3 million hogs. The state ranks sixth nationally in overall cattle numbers and second in the number of beef cows with 2.16 million. Within Missouri, there are nearly 68,000 beef or dairy cattle farms, and the beef industry alone contributes $1.5 million to the state economy.
Agriculture in Missouri goes well beyond agricultural commodities. Agritourism destinations, including wineries and vineyards, farmers markets, and trail rides, provide educational fun, connect Missourians to how their food is grown and raised, and encourage all to enjoy the outdoors. Missouri is also home to many agricultural research powerhouses, a leader in agricultural exports and an industry-wide example for consumer protection efforts. All these bring value to the state’s economy and support hundreds of thousands of jobs.