Agriculture in Minnesota
Minnesota’s 26 million acres of agricultural land comprise about 51 percent of the state's land area. Minnesota’s agricultural lands are used for row crop production, livestock production, and non-row crop production. According to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota farms and agricultural production and processing industries generate over $112 billion annually in total economic impact and support more than 431,000 jobs. Minnesota ranks fourth in the nation in agricultural production, with $17 billion in agricultural sales per year.
Minnesota's agricultural landscapes have changed over time and continue to evolve. The state was one of the nation's leading producers of wheat in the 19th century, and produced a mix of wheat, barley, oats, dairy, beef, and pork through the mid-20th century. Spurred by changing market demands and the demand for biofuel, corn and soybeans now dominate agriculture production, although livestock and crops such as sugar beets and potatoes are regionally important. Challenges in the agricultural sector include the need to adapt to a changing climate and to protect or restore water quality and soil health, while responding to national and international economic trends. Updated statistics on Minnesota agriculture are available from the USDA - National Agricultural Statistics Service.
BWSR works closely with Minnesota's 90 Soil and Water conservation districts, partner state and federal agencies such as the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and other organizations to foster sustainable agricultural practices that protect and enhance land and water resources. BWSR is also partnering with research institutions, state agencies, and not-for-profit organizations to advance a Working Lands Initiative that would support development of supply chains and market opportunities for perennial and winter annual cover crops that can enhance water quality and soil health.