Editor’s note: The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service highlights new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture. Last week Michigan was featured.
When you think of Michigan, you may think of Detroit and the car industry, however our agriculture industry is also critical to our state’s economy. Agriculture’s economic impact on the Michigan economy recently surpassed the $100 billion mark. Traveling through Michigan, you can easily see just how diverse agriculture in our state truly is. In the latest Census of Agriculture, Michigan farmers reported growing many types of fruits, vegetable and livestock commodities. In fact, Michigan produces more than 300 different commodities.
While the Great Lakes provide our crop growers with an abundance of fertile lands and water, it is our dairy farmers that produce our most valuable commodity. According to the Census, in 2012, Michigan dairy farmers sold more than $1.5 billion worth of milk from their cows. And despite the decrease in the number of such farms, the number of dairy cows in Michigan keeps growing. As of 2012, there were more than 376,000 milk cows on 2,409 of our dairy farms.
It is our fruits and vegetable farms, however, which truly make our agriculture unique. For example, our tart cherry growers lead the nation in production of this essential fruit. Michigan had nearly 37,000 acres of farmland dedicated to tart cherry production.
Our farmers are also the second largest producers of tame blueberries, accounting for nearly a quarter of all cultivated blueberry production in the United States. In 2012, Census counted nearly 19,000 acres of Michigan land dedicated to these berries. So when you’re buying blueberries in a supermarket, there’s a good chance that you’re getting a taste of Michigan.
Another interesting fact that you may not know is that most of the cucumbers used for pickling in the United States comes from Michigan. Our farmers harvested more than 25,000 acres of cucumbers for pickle processing in 2012. That’s more than a third of all the acres in the nation dedicated to this crop.
Finally, considering that we’re currently in the holiday season, I’d be remiss if I didn’t boast Michigan’s Christmas tree industry. In 2012, Michigan farmers cut down more than 1.7 million Christmas trees to make everyone’s holiday season as jolly as possible.
As you can see, Michigan agriculture is very diverse and its impact is extremely widespread. Of course this is just a sample of the wonders our farming industry has to offer.