In 2008 there were 81,000 farms in Minnesota, 55 percent of which had annual sales of more than $10,000. Farmland occupied 10.9 million hectares (26.9 million acres). Some 42 percent of the state’s land area was cropland, and another 3 percent was pastureland.
In 2007 Minnesota ranked high among the states in total farm income, with annual earnings from farm products amounting to $12.5 billion. Farm earnings from the sale of livestock and livestock products were slightly less than earnings from the sale of crops.
Minnesota can be roughly divided into four agricultural regions. In the northeast, including most of the coniferous forest region, farming is unimportant. There are generally poor soils in the area, and summers are short and cool. This area is often referred to as the hay-forest region, and harvested crops, other than native wild hay, occupy less than 10 percent of the land. There is some dairying.
Immediately south and southwest of this region, in the deciduous forest area, dairying is a major activity. This area is the westernmost portion of the great northeastern dairy region of the United States. Because there are few nearby markets for fresh milk, much of the production is made into butter and nonfat dry milk. Where cultivation is possible, feed crops of corn are raised, as are oats and hay.
On the flat plains of the Red River Valley a cash-crop type of farming is found. Once famous for their wheat production, the large farms in this area now produce a wide variety of crops, and Minnesota no longer ranks as a leading wheat grower, although it remains among the top ten producing states. The crops raised here include sugar beets, for which Minnesota was the leading producer in the United States in 1996, and hard spring wheat. There are also large acreages of barley, flax, oats, rye, hay, and potatoes. Corn and soybeans, as well as onions and sunflowers, are grown in the southern part of the state.
The remaining southern and southwestern section of the state is part of the famous Midwestern Corn Belt, where high-yielding crops of ripe corn, as well as oats and hay, are raised. These crops feed large numbers of hogs and beef cattle. Some of the beef cattle are raised in the area, and others are shipped in from the rangelands in the West for fattening. A considerable amount of corn, far more than the local feed requirements, is sold for cash, and large quantities of soybeans, raised in the more level areas, also are sold. Some flax, wheat, and barley are raised.
Dairy products are a leading source of farm income in Minnesota. In 1996 the state ranked fifth among the states in sales of milk products. Beef cattle and hogs are important livestock products, and the state was third in the value of hogs raised on its farms. Minnesota ranked second in sales of turkeys, behind North Carolina. Eggs are another important poultry product. Corn is Minnesota’s most important cash crop, and in 1996 the state ranked fifth in the value of its production. Much of the corn is used to feed livestock. Soybeans are another major crop, and the state was the third leading producer in the United States. Other significant crops include hay and oats. In 1996 Minnesota was fourth among the states in the value of its barley production. Vegetables, principally potatoes, are also grown. "Minnesota" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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