It may be the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but in Minnesota, agriculture reigns supreme.
With 81,000 farms occupying about 26.9 million acres of farmland—almost half of the state—Minnesota leads the nation in the production of several commodities including sugar beets, turkeys, and oats, as well as sweet corn and green peas for processing.
The state is also a major producer of spring wheat, corn, soybeans, canola, hogs, dry beans, milk cows and dairy, and wild rice.
But Minnesota farmers don’t just fuel the American people. Minnesota agriculture also fuels America’s transportation, by contributing to the nation’s energy production with 19 ethanol plants and three biodiesel plants currently in operation.
Agriculture serves as Minnesota’s number one industry, employing one-fourth of the state’s labor force, and making it seventh among the states in international exports, one of the nation’s few remaining trade surpluses.
It’s not always smooth sailing along those 10,000 lakes, however. With a growing season averaging about 125 days (100 days in the north to 150 days in the south), Minnesota deals with severe frost due to cold winter temperatures as low as 20 below freezing.
Despite the harsh weather, and what can be variable production, Minnesota farmers love their home and are proud of what it yields.
“When the land has been in your family for five generations – like our farm has – and it provides you and your family with your life’s work, you treat it with respect,” says Redwood County farmer and Minnesota Corn Growers Association president DeVonna Zeug.
“We love the land and what it has given our family. We’ve been turning soil, sun and water into carbohydrates and protein on this land for more than 130 years. If that’s not sustainable farming, I don’t know what is.”
Learn more about the people and production of this great state:
Meet Minnesota’s own corn and ethanol producer, Andy Quinn.
Spotlight on other States: