The noun form of the word "farm" once meant "fixed payment." The noun was originally defined as a monetary payment as rent, a lease, or tax. Farm as a verb later evolved out of the noun and gave rise to the phrase "farm out," meaning "to subcontract."

Farmland is typically an area of land maintained for the use and production of livestock or crops. Today, the USDA defines the word "farm" as a location where agricultural items are produced and sold for at least $1,000 during the span of one year.

Early Years

The early years of US settlements were tough, as starvation was common during the 17th Century. The winter of 1609-1610 was particularly tough, as the large majority of Virginia colonists died from starvation and other related diseases. The winter became known as "The Starving Time."

Straight into the 18th-century, colonists and settlement builders relied on what they grew for the survival of themselves and their families, known as subsistence farming. Over the past 160 years, life expectancy in the United States has risen from 39.4 years in 1860 to 78.9 years in 2020. One of the major reasons for the overall increase of life expectancy in the is the fact that the infant and child mortality rates have decreased. Medical advancements, fewer wars and improved living standards also mean that people are living longer than they did in previous

Dramatic changes in American farming took place between 1850 and 1900. The end of the Civil War led into the Industrial Revolution, and changes resulted in making field work easier. Methods that were performed by hand were being replaced by modern machinery to cut hay, plant corn, and bind oats. With the turn of the 19th Century came a transformation in the US to the land of opportunity. More and more Europeans from across the continent migrated to the U.S. and created what is known as The Great Migration, and was one of the largest movements of people in US history. It brought new influences on farming, laws, customs and food.

The Great Depression of the 1930s would also change farming. Farming technology improved dramatically as tractor manufacturers used automobile technology and chose the diesel engine as a workhose, which provided much more power.

Today, U.S. agriculture has dramatically evolved into the land of abundance and opportunity. Even though food production in China and India rivals the U.S., no other country produces food as efficiently as the U.S. This is largly due to the feats in mechanical engineering that occurred during the 19th-century.

How important is agriculture to the economy?

Agriculture is vitally important to the overall U.S. economy. Indeed, it was a farming culture of young American colonies that laid the foundation for what we are today. Although there are larger industries by annual revenue, few are as important as food and related industries that provide the basic commodities needed for human survival.

Agriculture and its role in our economy..

Although farming isn't in the top ten most profitable industries in the world, it is nonetheless a coveted sector or our society that is dependent by humans for a basic requirement - food. In 2015, the USDA reported the following statistics on agriculture and its related industries.

In 2023, the top 10 agricultural producing States in terms of cash receipts were California, Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Minnesota, Illinois, Kansas, Indiana, North Carolina, and Wisconsin.

State Ranking State receipts for all commodities
California 1 51,290,214
Iowa 2 34,917,530
Nebraska 4 26,529,508
Texas 3 24,785,523
Minnesota 5 21,822,631
Illinois 6 21,700,564
Kansas 7 21,300,135
Indiana 8 14,213,689
North Carolina 9 13,389,587
Wisconsin 10 12,824,537

Data as of February 7, 2023, reported by United States Department of Agriculture

Leading U.S. Farm Commodities

In 2021, the 10 largest sources of cash receipts from the sale of U.S. farm commodities were (in descending order):

These and related statistics can be found in ERS's Farm Income and Wealth Statistics.

Value added by industry as percent of GDP:

Industry 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Farms 0.9 1.1 0.9 1.1 1.0 0.8
Forestry, fishing, and hunting 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2
Food, beverages, and tobacco products 1.5 1.4 1.4 1.4 1.4 1.4
Textile mills and textile product mills 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1
Apparel and leather and allied products 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1
Food services and drinking places 1.9 1.9 1.9 1.9 1.9 1.9
Ag-Related as a percent of GDP 4.7 4.8 4.6 4.8 4.7 4.5

The significance of farming is no less as important today as it was in ancient times. Centuries ago, there were far less established industries that added to the cycle of goods and services. But today, Americans are dependent on a number of automotive, retail and technology sectors, and none are as important as the sector of dedicated farmers that make it possible to put food on our tables. Yes, the health, well-being, and survival of all humans depend on them.

A Global Hot Spot

If you like soaking up the sun and drinking iced tea, you might consider visiting Yuma Arizona. Yuma is at the top of the list of cities in the U.S. with the most sun. Yes, the clouds are on vacation for the majority of the year in this hot and arid place known as the Sonora desert. In fact, the World Meteorological Organization considers Yuma Arizona as the sunniest place on planet earth. And it's also hot, as temperatures exceed 104° about 100 days per year. Yes, nothing beats living in a life-sized Dutch oven (hell never sounded so good).

Winter Lettuce Capital of the World

Lots of sun rays are good for crops, and even though the rainfall does not exceed 200mm per year, ice burg lettuce has little to no problem flourishing there. Yuma is known as the "Winter Lettuce Capital of the World." A combination of fertile alluvial soil, water from the Colorado River, and 90% sunshine each year, give Arizona farmers the ability to successfully grow and supply the U.S. (and the world) with many types of vegetables and a few types of fruit. PDF»

Places in the U.S. with the least cloudy skies. Clear days is the average number days a year when clouds cover less than one-third of the sky. Current Results»

City, State Percent of Sunshine
Yuma, Arizona90%
Redding California88%
Phoenix, Arizona85%
Tucson, Arizona85%
Las Vegas, Nevada85%
El Paso, Texas84%
Fresno, California79%
Reno, Nevada79%
Flagstaff, Arizona78%
Sacramento, California78%
Pueblo, Colorado76%
Key West, Florida76%
Albuquerque, New Mexico76%

Bill Gates and Farmland Acquisitions

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates gave a few of his thoughts about his recent farmland property acquisitions. He stated that the agriculture sector is important, and with more productive seeds, we can avoid deforestation and help Africa to deal with the climate difficulty they already face. It is unclear how cheap biofuels can be but if they are cheap it can solve the aviation and truck emissions.


Entomophagy is a term that defines the act of eating insects. It is unknown whether or not that Entomophagy will ever become a common practice in the U.S. Historically, the American culture has not been psychologically conditioned to accept culinary pastime of consuming insects. Moreover, there may be a lack of large and abundant insects available for regular harvesting of insects since many species of insects are declining. However, there is a slow movement from specific industries that believe that entomophagy might someday become an accepted niche part of the American food markets.

Some industries are currently forming the basis for the emerging insect-based food industry as new strategies are now gearing up and moving toward normalizing insect products. Critical elements in preparing for large-scale production including research on insect biology. To achieve success in commercial mass production, current farming systems need to be modified and/or modernized in order to make them economically viable.

Traditionally, insect farms have existed and operated to produce insects and insect by-products in the U.S.

The natural consumption of insects means that people eat bugs while not knowing that their in the food they're eating. Many Americans unknowingly eat insects almost every day, as it has been estimated that the average American eats about 1-2 pounds of dead insects or insect parts each year. Some examples of insects that are commonly farmed worldwide include crickets, beetles, flies, bees, ants, and mealworms.

The US Food and Drug Administration has allowable insect parts per certain food types. Yes, bugs are allowed in vegetables, rice, cereal, candy, pasta, peanut butter, and various fruits and vegetables. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has deemed these products and others to be totally safe due to the fact that some ingredients are grown, harvested or processed in conditions where there are too many bugs to control.

Do you wear red lipstick? There are most likely bugs in that too!

And when it comes to mosquitoes, we all know that they can be a nuisance and in sometimes even hazardous. Currently, scientists are proposing to turn the tables on them and other insects like house flies, and making them into lunch for the animals that we eat. They have made measurable success in creating insect traps and examining the captured insects to ensure they won't transmit pathogens up the food chain when they're consumed by farm animals and pets. When the trap design is finalized, they could be used by private farmers and large commercial operations to feed their farm animals.

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