By Rachel Bertone, farmflavor.com
From horses to bourbon to tobacco, Kentucky has long been known for its agricultural offerings. As one of the state’s leading and most vital industries, agriculture contributes approximately $45.6 billion to Kentucky’s economy each year, according to the most recent statistics.
The Bluegrass State has just over 77,000 farms covering 13.04 million acres of land, with the average farm size around 169 acres. About half of the state’s land is devoted to farming and agriculture.
Hardworking farmers produce tobacco, hay, equine, broilers, cattle and calves, soybeans, corn, wheat, hogs, and more. Kentucky ranks in the top 30 nationally in several commodities, including No. 1 in the U.S. for burley tobacco production, dark fire-cured tobacco production, dark air-cured tobacco production, and horses. Poultry is the state’s top commodity with a value of over $1 billion. Approximately 7,000 Kentuckians are employed in the poultry industry alone.
Kentucky commodities play a role globally, too, as the state exports several agricultural products. In 2013, the top five exports included soybeans, tobacco, wheat, poultry and eggs, and soybean meal. Kentucky’s agricultural exports were estimated at $1.46 billion in 2015.
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) supports Kentucky’s agriculture industry while its regulatory functions encompass various aspects of everyday life. Whether it’s fighting hunger, marketing agricultural products and teaching producers how to do so as well, inspecting gas pumps and grocery store scales to ensure consumers are getting a fair deal, or encouraging young people to secure their own agricultural careers, the KDA’s work affects every Kentuckian every day.
With dedicated support from the KDA in all facets of the industry, agriculture continues to prosper, grow and adapt to the changing world.