Agriculture sustained the first settlers of Kentucky in the 1770s, and the business of raising crops and livestock continues to be the backbone of rural Kentucky today. Kentucky is home to a wide variety of agriculture production, from horses and beef cattle to tobacco and corn. Agriculture in Kentucky is one of the state’s leading and most vital industries, contributing about $45.6 billion to Kentucky’s economy each year. Kentucky agriculture is also constantly changing to keep up with consumer demand and the ever-growing world population.
Kentucky is home to 76,000 farms, from large to small. The average farm size in Kentucky is 170 acres, compared to the national average of 435 acres. Kentucky agriculture is dominated by small family farms. More than 57 percent of its farms (about 43,700) have annual sales of less than $10,000.
Of Kentucky’s 25.4 million acres, 51% is farmland, accounting for 13 million acres.
Kentucky agricultural cash receipts set a record $6.5 billion in 2014, but fell to $5.4 billion in 2016. The decreased receipts the past few years have been a result of lower cattle sales and lower grain prices.
Kentucky's top agricultural enterprises based on sales:
Broilers (chickens raised for meat), eggs, and turkeys provided Kentucky farmers more than $1 billion in 2016.
HORSES & OTHER EQUINE
Horses, ponies, donkeys, and mules have an annual economic impact of $4 billion. Horse sales in 2016 totaled nearly $1 billion.
Kentucky is home to more than 2 million cattle and calves and is the largest beef cattle state east of the Mississippi River.