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: 156
- Farmer’s Age: 58
- Value of Equipment: $80,447
- Value of Land and Buildings: $608,739
Tennessee’s Top Agricultural Commodities
- Soybeans are planted on more acres than any other row crop in Tennessee and is currently the #1 commodity in the state in cash receipts.
- In 2017, farmers harvested a record soybean crop of 50 bushels per acre across almost 1.7 million harvested acres.
- In 2018, Tennessee soybeans brought in $655.3 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 $494.5 million in cash receipts.
- Tennessee currently ranks 16th in the U.S. for number of broilers on farms.
- Tennessee ranks 17th in corn acreage in the U.S. and 18th in total corn for grain production.
- The largest corn-producing counties in the state are in the western and central regions.
- In 2018, corn brought in $374.2 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
- In 2018, Tobacco brought in $99.3 million in cash receipts, an 8% share of total U.S. receipts.
- Tennessee’s climate is conducive for the production of high-quality, low-protein, soft red winter wheat.
- In 2018, Wheat brought in $97.2 million in cash receipts.
- Tennessee ranks No. 21 in the nation for Winter wheat production
- 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.
- In 2018, Dairy products brought $109.4 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.
- In 2018, The crop brought $236.3 million in cash receipts.
- In 2017, Tennessee had a total inventory of 225,000 hogs.
- In 2018, Hogs brought $79.5 million in cash receipts.
- Tennessee ranks No. 21 in the U.S. for Hog production.
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.
- In 2017, Tennessee had an inventory of over 1.8 million cattle and calves.
- In 2018, Cattle and Calves brought $548.8 million in cash receipts
- Cattle and Calves rank #2 in the state for total cash receipts.
- Growers across the state harvested more than 1.7 million acres of hay in 2017.
- In 2018, Hay brought $157.4 million in cash receipts.
- In 2017, there were 1.66 million acres of land for hay and forage production.
- Tennessee ranks No. 7 in the U.S. for Hay production.
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 40,097 women farmers.
- The average farm size is 155 acres.
- Tennessee has 9,344 producers who are involved in the care of 7,101 farms.
- 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.
Tennessee Forestry Facts
- Approximately 52% of of the state is covered in forest for a total of 14 million acres.
- Tennessee is home to more than 120 tree species.
- Tennessee ranks within the top 3 hardwood lumber-producing states in the U.S.
- Forestry accounts for 3.5% of the state’s economy and employs more than 98,000 Tennesseans.
- In 2019, forestry generated $24.3 billion in output.
- 2017 exports of Tennessee forest products, furniture and related products outside the U.S. totaled $343.7 million.
- Top Tennessee forest product exports include Oak Lumber, Hardwood Lumber, Wooden Casks, Ash Lumber and Hardwood Logs.
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