Agriculture is a major industry in the USA and the country is a net exporter of food.

Table of contents
1 History of agriculture in the USA
2 Crops
3 Livestock

History of agriculture in the USA

In the United States, farms spread from the colonies westward along with the settlers. In cooler regions, wheat was the crop of choice when lands were newly settled, leading to a "wheat frontier" that moved westward over the course of years. After the "wheat frontier" had passed through an area, more diversified farms including dairy cattle generally took its place. Warmer regions saw plantings of cotton and herds of beef cattle.

Soybeans were not widely cultivated in the United States until the 1950s, when soybean acres began to replace oats and wheat acres.

"Sodbuster" and "Swampbuster" restrictions written into federal farm programs starting in the 1970s reversed a decades-long trend of habitat destruction that began in 1942 when farmers were encouraged to plant all possible acreage in support of the war effort. In the United States, federal programs administered through local Soil and Water Conservation Districts provide technical assistance and partial funding to farmers who wish to implement management practices to conserve soil and limit erosion.


The major field crops with the value of production (in $billions) are:

Source: 1997 USDA-NASS reports, *=data not available. Fruits, vegetables, and nut crops excluded.


The major livestock industries in the United States are:

Inventories in the United States at the end of 1997 were:
  • 403,000,000 chickens
  • 99,500,000 cattle
  • 59,900,000 hogs
  • 7,600,000 sheep

Goats, horses, turkeys and bees are also raised, though in lesser quantities. Inventory data is not as readily available as for the major industries. For the three major goat-producing states (AZ, NM, and TX) there were 1,200,000 goats at the end of 2002. There were 5,300,000 horses in the United States at the end of 1998. There were 2,500,000 colonies of bees at the end of 2002.