Tennessee farming is far from the mule-and-plow stereotype of the past. Staying attuned to the technological times, embracing sustainability and fostering innovation in an ever-changing industry is how agriculture and forestry have remained vital sectors in the Volunteer State, contributing approximately $74.8 billion to Tennessee’s economy each year. Leading agricultural commodities are cattle and calves, broilers and milk, and also soybeans, corn, hay, wheat, cotton, tobacco, and a variety of fruits and vegetables.
The Average Tennessee Farm
- Acres: 160
- Farmer’s Age: 59
- Value of Equipment: $69,248
- Value of Land and Buildings: $569,416
Tennessee’s Top Agricultural Commodities
- Soybeans are planted on more acres than any other row crop in Tennessee.
- In 2017, farmers harvested a record soybean crop of 50 bushels per acre across almost 1.7 million harvested acres.
- Tennessee soybeans brought in $680.3 million in cash receipts.
- Tennessee’s poultry industry has an overall economic impact of $6.55 billion.
- Poultry provides more than 27,000 direct and indirect jobs, and accounts for over $438 million paid annually in state and federal taxes.
- Broilers brought in $443.9 million in cash receipts.
- Tennessee ranks 17th in corn acreage in the U.S.
- The largest corn-producing counties in the state are in the western and central regions.
- Corn brought in $418.9 million in cash receipts.
- Tennessee farmers harvested 21,100 acres of tobacco in 2017, which produced 43 million pounds of the crop.
- Tennessee ranks No. 4 in the nation for tobacco production
- Tobacco brought in $96.8 million in cash receipts.
- Tennessee’s climate is conducive for the production of high-quality, low-protein, soft red winter wheat.
- Wheat brought in $121 million in cash receipts.
- Tennessee has six commercial milk processing plants in Nashville, Murfreesboro, Memphis, Powell and Athens.
- A typical Tennessee dairy farm has a herd of about 170 milking cows.
- The state is home to approximately 226 registered dairies.
- Dairy products brought $118.9 million in cash receipts.
- In 2017, Tennessee produced 1,031 pounds of lint per acre from 340,000 acres harvested, for a total production of 730,000 bales.
- The majority of the crop is grown in the Western and Delta part of the state.
- The crop brought $110.2 million in cash receipts.
- In 2017, Tennessee had a total inventory of 235,000 hogs.
- Hogs brought $73.7 million in cash receipts.
Cattle and Calves
- Beef cattle are produced in every county in Tennessee.
- Tennessee is one of the top beef-producing states in the nation.
- Tennessee ranks 12th in the nation for number of beef cows and 16th for total cattle.
- Growers across the state harvested more than 1.7 million acres of hay in 2017.
- Hay brought $130.7 million in cash receipts.
Tennessee Ag Fun Facts
- A single acre of soybeans can make 82,368 crayons.
- Hay can be a single species or a mix of plants such as alfalfa, clover or ryegrass.
- Lincoln County had a total of 61,000 cattle and calves in 2017 – the most of the counties in the Central Basin according to most recent data.
- Tennessee has 29,189 women farmers.
- The average farm size is 162 acres.
- Tennessee ranks fourth in the nation for meat goat production.
- Roughly 52 percent of Tennessee is covered in forest, or close to 14 million acres.
- 89 percent of Tennessee’s forest composition is hardwoods, making the state one of the top three lumber-producing states in the country.
- Tennessee ranks third in the nation for the production of fresh-market tomatoes.
Local Food Facts
- Pick Tennessee Products has 2,388 producers with more than 10,000 products.
- Tennessee has 125 farmers markets.
- Tennessee ranks 15th in the nation for farms selling local foods direct to consumers.
- The value of local food sold from farms in 2014 totaled $58,720,441.
Sources: USDA Ag Census, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service