Top Cash Crops for the Top 10 Agricultural States

Soybeans Rule US Exports

It would be difficult to discuss food production in the US without discussing the importance of soybeans. Soybeans are the top agricultural food export in 15 states, and also rank highly in exports for many other locations. Tweet This Illinois is the home of Archer Daniels Midland Company, which owns the second largest soybean processing company in the US and the largest soybean crushing plant in the world in Decatur, Illinois. Illinois exported $3.4 billion worth of soybeans in 2014, the highest numbers reported in the US that year, but still only 14% of total US production.
Soybeans are known for their versatility as a product that can be processed in many different ways. Traditional soybean uses include soymilk and tofu, while the product can also be fermented to make soy sauce and tempeh. Soybean oil is one of the most widely used food oils, and also used in many industrial applications such as vehicles, bedding and furniture. The United states is the main producer of soy worldwide, producing 89.48 million metric tons in 2013, and exporting 48.7 million metric tons in 2014. US farmers grow soybeans in 30 states, making it the second largest cash crop in the US, and the top valued crop export.

Dairy Firms Cover Wisconsin

It’s probably no surprise, but Wisconsin is the leading dairy exporter in the US, with $970.5 million in dairy exports as of 2014. The dairy industry is a huge producer, with more than a third of the dairy processors in the Dairy 100 reporting revenues of $1 billion or more. Of these large dairy processors, Wisconsin is home to the most Dairy 100 firms with 12, followed by California and Minnesota – which each have 10.

The dairy processing industry goes beyond making milk and include the pasteurizing, homogenizing, blending, filling and other necessary steps to take these items from farm to table. The science behind dairy processing is a complicated business, with research regularly dedicated to increasing the quality of products such as using nanofiltration tech for lactose or improving processing technology with organic products and green packaging.

California Leads as a Top Producer

California joins top food manufacturing states like Wisconsin, Illinois, and also Texas and Iowa. The area is known for plentiful citrus and grape production for wine. Sunsweet Growers operates the largest dried fruit plant in the world in Yuba City, California. California also grows more than 95% of the US tomato crop, which is likely why California is the top tomato processor in the country.

While these crops are plentiful, California’s top processed export in 2014 wasn’t fruit, but tree nuts such as almonds, cashews and pistachios. According to the USDA, California exported $7.542 billion in tree nuts for the year. Blue Diamond Growers operates multiple nut processing facilities in the state, with the Sacramento facility ranking as the largest nut processing facility in the world – covering 33 city blocks on 90 acres. Another popular tree nut, Macadamia nuts are primarily produced in Hawaii, with tree nuts also representing this state’s largest export of processed food.