North Dakota agriculture: One word – diversity

Farm Forum

Even before Lewis and Clark explored the Northern Plains in 1804 and 1805, agriculture was very prevalent in the area that later became North Dakota and it is still widespread today. The 2012 Census of Agriculture showed that farms and ranches occupy 39.3 million acres of land in North Dakota, which is an amazing 89-percent of the total land in the state.

North Dakota is a very diverse state when it comes to the number of commodities produced, especially for crops. In 2012, our farmers led the nation in the production of all dry edible beans, navy beans, pinto beans, canola, flaxseed, honey, Durum wheat, and spring wheat. North Dakota was also the second leading state in barley, lentils, oats, dry edible peas, sunflowers, and all wheat production. We also were in the top five for the production of multiple other crops. So as you can see, the state’s producers are varied in what they produce and the amount that they produce.

The Peace Garden State growers sold almost $11 billion worth of agricultural products in 2012, which is a whopping 80-percent increase from 2007. Of these sales, $9.7 billion – nearly 90-percent of the total agricultural product sales in North Dakota – came from crops. Historically, wheat has had one of the largest, if not the largest, economic impacts on our state. The 2012 agricultural census shows that wheat had the largest amount of agricultural sales with over $2.5 billion in sales. This accounts for almost one-fourth of all agricultural sales in 2012. In addition to corn and soybeans, flaxseed and canola are also widely grown across our state. North Dakota is the biggest player for these two crops in the United States. The 2012 census showed that 95-percent of the country’s flaxseed and 83-percent of the canola came from our state.

Many North Dakota farmers grow sugarbeets and potatoes in the lush, nutrient rich soils of the Red River Valley. In 2012, North Dakota was the 3rd largest producer of sugarbeets and potatoes in the United States. Also, our producers are proud that North Dakota is the largest honey producing state in the United States. Approximately, 34.2 million pounds of honey came from North Dakota in 2012, accounting for 23-percent of the total U.S. production.

To learn more about North Dakota agriculture and its diverse commodities, please visit the 2012 Census of Agriculture results.