April 2023, Volume 29, Number 2
The US had two million farms in 2022, including almost 250,000 in Texas and almost 100,000 in Missouri. There were 78,000 farms with annual farm sales of $1 million or more, including 6,600 in Iowa and 6,400 in California.
The US exported farm commodities worth $196 billion in 2022 and imported farm commodities worth $199 billion, yielding the second farm trade deficit in recent years (2019). The leading destinations for US farm exports were China, $38 billion, Mexico and Canada, $28 billion each, and Japan, $15 billion.
Americans are consuming less milk. After a peak 45 gallons per person in 1945, milk consumption fell to 16 gallons in 2021. Young people are consuming dairy products in cheese, yogurt and ice cream, but many drink almond, oat, or other nut- and plant-based fluid milks.
Limited supplies led to high prices for eggs in winter 2022-23, with retail prices topping $4 a dozen, reflecting the higher price of chicken feed, avian flu that led to the deaths of 40 million chickens (or 10 percent of the US egg-laying flock), and high consumer demand for eggs due to high meat prices.
Avian flu is spread from wild birds to chickens in many ways, including wind-borne feces that can be sucked into barns via fans. Egg-laying chickens are more susceptible because they live a year or more, while broiler chickens are vulnerable only during their typical six- to eight-week lives.
F&V. The US imported 22 million tons of fresh fruits and vegetables in 2022 worth $28 billion; both import volumes and value were records. US exports of fresh fruits and vegetables were four million tons worth $6 billion.
Half of fresh fruits and vegetable imports (11 million tons) were from Mexico, led by tomatoes, bell peppers, avocadoes, cucumbers, lemons and watermelons, followed by Guatemala; three million tons of mostly bananas, Costa Rica; two million tons led by pineapples; Canada, a million tons led by cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers;, and Peru, a million tons led by grapes and blueberries.
The US produced $16 billion worth of (non-potato) vegetables from 2.1 million acres in 2022. The three largest vegetables by acreage were sweet corn, 340,000 acres; tomatoes, 264,000; and lettuces, 250,000. Other 100,000+ acre vegetables were snap beans, onions, green peas, and sweet potatoes. Broccoli was worth $815 million in 2022; sweet corn $810 million; watermelons $750 million; bell peppers $675 million; cabbage $615 million; and sweet potatoes $600 million.
Controlled environment agriculture (CEA) has attracted over $7 billion in private investment in the past five years, but many CEA startups are struggling. Europe has over 50,000 acres of greenhouses, compared to less than 5,000 acres in the US. Proponents of CEA say that the US industry is going through a shake out as firms with high costs and flawed business models quit. Fresh tomatoes are the commodity most likely to be produced in CEA.
Pennsylvania dominates agaricus mushroom production, accounting for two-thirds of the $930 million in mushroom sales in 2021-22, followed by California with 11 percent. Pennsylvania growers get only about half of the $2 per pound grower price for fresh.