Can You Name Arizona Agriculture’s Top 16 Commodities?

Harvest time on the farm signals a time to be thankful and celebrate. Your regular paycheck (or business revenue) is not exactly representative of a farm family bringing in the year’s crops. But it’s a symbolic harvest of your own. Think of all those hours you put in to get where you are today. So celebrate. And, you can celebrate the more traditional harvest with the farmers every time you go to the grocery store.

When we remember that more than 300 million Americans are fed and clothed by less than 1% of our population (about 2% live on farms), we really need to be celebrating harvest time! According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there are only about 960,000 persons claiming farming as their principal occupation and a similar number of farmers claiming some other principal occupation. The number of farms in the United States currently stands at approximately two million farms.

The demographics on farming in America are a lesson in appreciation and wonder. American farmers feed you and I, feed themselves and then turn around and feed the world due, in part, to their continuing yield efficiencies. According to the Department of Agriculture’s Census of Agriculture data, the vast majority of farms in the country (around 90%) are owned and operated by individuals or families. The next largest category of ownership is partnerships (less than 10%).

Arizona Agriculture’s Top Commodities in 2011
Arizona agriculture’s top 16 commodities and what they bring to our state reflects this point. The majority of our top 16 are specialty crops and our top two are dairy and beef. These 16 agriculture commodities bring in nearly $4 billion in cash receipts alone.

The top commodities include …

  1. Dairy
  2. Beef
  3. Head lettuce
  4. Cotton
  5. Romaine Lettuce
  6. Spinach
  7. Cantaloupe
  8. Watermelon
  9. Cabbage
  10. Hay
  11. Grains
  12. Leaf Lettuce
  13. Pork
  14. Broccoli
  15. Pecans
  16. Cauliflower

Yes, farming is global and it will always make sense to import. Importing our Kiwi fruit will be a given. Africa is experiencing an agriculture boom … finally. We should see more imports of coffee, fish, tea, flowers, vanilla and rice coming from Africa. Though it remains a continent of episodic starvation and chronic food shortages, pockets of success in agriculture production are showing up … many of the lessons learned from our own agriculture experts teaching farm production to Africans.

But it’s exciting to know that our Arizona agriculture is so diverse. We can't always imagine that this desert state would produce such a different variety of crops. And, did you notice that the majority of the top 16 crops are specialty crops! We're growing lots of broccoli and cauliflower. 

Let’s support and protect those commodities we grow well. I hope to never find us dependent on another country to feed and clothe us.