For Tennesseans, agriculture goes far beyond crops and commodities. From new farm technology to the importance of transportation, agriculture is big business in the Volunteer State.
With more than 10.5 million acres of farmland and 77,300 farms, it’s easy to see how the state’s farmers raise diverse crops and livestock, including their top commodities of cattle and calves, soybeans, broilers, corn and cotton. Specialty crops like fresh tomatoes and snap beans, as well as forestry, are also big contributors to the state’s economy. In 2011 alone, the value of cash receipts for tomatoes and snap beans combined was $46,685,000.
Forestry has a large impact in Tennessee. In fact, the state’s primary forest industries (which convert logs to products such as lumber or paper) employ more than 41,700 workers and its secondary industries (which further process or add value to hardwood lumber) employ more than 60,000 workers.
Although a wide variety of wood products are produced in Tennessee – from pulp to paper to pencils – the production of lumber products from hardwood sawlogs is the dominant major component with an annual production of 600 million board feet.
The state’s Division of Forestry grows millions of hardwood and pine seedlings for timber production, wildlife habitat and erosion control, all while developing genetically superior stock that is able to increase yields by up to 30 percent.
And Tennessee’s bounty stands up well to the rest of the country. The state ranks second in the nation for meat goat numbers, fourth in tobacco production and sixth in equine.
As for international recognition, Tennessee’s agricultural exports rack up big numbers for the state’s economy. Soybeans and products were the top agricultural export with a value of $290 million in 2010, with cotton and linters following with a value of $174.6 million.
It doesn’t stop there. With agricultural education, extension, agritourism efforts and more, Tennessee’s agriculture industry continues to expand. We invite you to learn more within these pages.