Through a variety of our communications channels, we’ve been focused and reporting on the USDA-NASS Census of Agriculture’s Arizona numbers since the results were released in February. One proud feature of the numbers is that three of Arizona’s counties are in the top 40 U.S. counties in terms of value of agricultural sales: Maricopa, Yuma and Pinal. Arizona has 15 counties.

While there are 3,143 counties in the United States, according to the Census of Agriculture’s County profiles in this most recent Census, there are 3,078 counties in the U.S. that produce some type of agricultural commodity. All 15 of Arizona’s counties have some form of farm and ranch production.

This got USDA’s Dave DeWalt thinking about Arizona’s county footprint. “So, our top three Arizona counties are in the top 40 of 3,000+ counties nationwide, based on the value of sales,” said DeWalt. The thought that popped into my head, however, was that Arizona counties are huge in terms of acreage. So, I conducted a search on U.S. County sizes and the numbers follow.”


County                                  Rank in size Across the United States

Coconino                               2                         (California's San Bernardino is the largest county in the U.S.)

Mohave                                 5

Apache                                  6

Navajo                                  11

Maricopa                              15

Pima                                    16

Yavapai                                21

Cochise                               38

Yuma                                   50


“So, nine of Arizona’s 15 counties are in the top 50 in size in the United States,” concluded DeWalt.

One of our agriculture economists has an important point to add to all this. “Arizona's high county rankings in crop output are not just a factor of having more land,” says UArizona economist George Frisvold. “Private (individual or corporate) land is only 17% of the state total. A fair bit of this private land (especially in Maricopa and Pima) is urban, So, Arizona crop producers are getting a lot out of their limited private land base.” 

Remember, every county in Arizona has agriculture in it including the counties that host our major metropolitan areas: Phoenix in Maricopa County, Flagstaff in Coconino County and Tucson in Pima County. Additionally, all 15 Arizona counties host some type of beef cattle production.