15 State Economies Most Dependent on Agriculture

Sunset over Nebraska farm
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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Commodity.com.

The past few years have been challenging ones for the agriculture industry. The threat of global climate change has continued to produce higher temperatures and more extreme weather events that threaten crops and livestock.

This summer, the U.S. is experiencing serious drought in some of its key agricultural regions in California, the upper Midwest, and the Southeast.

Additionally, trade policies under the Trump administration reduced agricultural exports and incomes while raising costs on imports of key equipment and supplies.

And the COVID-19 pandemic brought additional uncertainty to commodity markets and has continued to disrupt the supply chains that farmers rely on to sell their products.

These recent difficulties have made it harder than ever to prosper as a farmer, particularly on smaller-scale farms. But long-term trends suggest that agriculture’s role in the economy has been shifting for much longer.

What has historically been one of America’s most important industries now has a starkly diminished role in terms of job creation and GDP (gross domestic product).

To identify the states most dependent on agriculture, researchers at Commodity.com used data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis to calculate the percentage of total state GDP accounted for by farming operations in each state.

Here are the state economies that are most dependent on agriculture.

15. Kentucky

Woman petting horse
Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com

Farming share of GDP: 1.06%

Farming share of total employment: 3.21%

Total farming GDP: $2,282,200,000

Total farming employment: 82,641

14. Vermont

Man riding a tractor in Wilmington, Vermont
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Farming share of GDP: 1.13%

Farming share of total employment: 2.11%

Total farming GDP: $385,600,000

Total farming employment: 9,316

13. Wisconsin

Wisconsin
By-Rachel-Niskanen / Shutterstock.com

Farming share of GDP: 1.25%

Farming share of total employment: 2.31%

Total farming GDP: $4,358,500,000

Total farming employment: 86,560

12. Oklahoma

Oklahoma wind farm
Bob Pool / Shutterstock.com

Farming share of GDP: 1.26%

Farming share of total employment: 3.27%

Total farming GDP: $2,547,100,000

Total farming employment: 76,389

11. Minnesota

Statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox
Edgar Lee Espe / Shutterstock.com

Farming share of GDP: 1.27%

Farming share of total employment: 1.97%

Total farming GDP: $4,880,500,000

Total farming employment: 75,401

10. Mississippi

Jackson, Mississippi
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Farming share of GDP: 1.27%

Farming share of total employment: 2.42%

Total farming GDP: $1,478,000,000

Total farming employment: 39,132

9. New Mexico

Albuquerque, New Mexico
BrigitteT / Shutterstock.com

Farming share of GDP: 1.28%

Farming share of total employment: 2.49%

Total farming GDP: $1,347,600,000

Total farming employment: 28,135

8. Wyoming

Wyoming oil rigs
Jim Parkin / Shutterstock.com

Farming share of GDP: 1.66%

Farming share of total employment: 3.58%

Total farming GDP: $671,800,000

Total farming employment: 14,781

7. Kansas

Olathe, Kansas
Dana Arriaga / Shutterstock.com

Farming share of GDP: 2.55%

Farming share of total employment: 3.23%

Total farming GDP: $4,501,000,000

Total farming employment: 62,910

6. Montana

Men on horses in mountains
outdoorsman / Shutterstock.com

Farming share of GDP: 3.23%

Farming share of total employment: 4.30%

Total farming GDP: $1,711,600,000

Total farming employment: 29,879

5. Idaho

Caldwell Idaho
CSNafzger / Shutterstock.com

Farming share of GDP: 4.28%

Farming share of total employment: 3.93%

Total farming GDP: $3,583,400,000

Total farming employment: 42,154

4. Iowa

Doug Lambert / Shutterstock.com

Farming share of GDP: 4.30%

Farming share of total employment: 4.24%

Total farming GDP: $8,374,200,000

Total farming employment: 88,874

3. North Dakota

Anh Luu / Shutterstock.com

Farming share of GDP: 4.46%

Farming share of total employment: 4.85%

Total farming GDP: $2,551,300,000

Total farming employment: 28,484

2. Nebraska

Harvest in Nebraska
Weldon Schloneger / Shutterstock.com

Farming share of GDP: 4.62%

Farming share of total employment: 4.07%

Total farming GDP: $6,005,200,000

Total farming employment: 54,700

1. South Dakota

Jacob Boomsma / Shutterstock.com

Farming share of GDP: 5.78%

Farming share of total employment: 5.07%

Total farming GDP: $3,174,300,000

Total farming employment: 31,273

Methodology

Man analyzing data on a laptop
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

The data used in this analysis is from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis GDP & Personal Income Regional Data.

To identify the states most dependent on agriculture, researchers calculated the percentage of total state GDP accounted for by farms in each state. Farms include establishments engaged in crop and animal production mainly for food and fiber.

Researchers also calculated the farm industry’s share of total employment, which includes full-time and part-time wage and salary jobs, sole proprietorships, and individual general partners, but not unpaid family workers or volunteers.

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