Thanks to its natural resources and land conditions, the United States was always destined to be one of the world’s leading agricultural producers and suppliers. In 2014, the U.S. farming industry employed more than 827 thousand people around the country.
Across the U.S. there are numerous farms of various sizes. In 2014, the total number of farms stood at approximately 2.08 million. On average, farms in the U.S. are around 438 acres in size and in total there are nearly 913 million acres of farmland across the country, of which slightly more than one third is operated by full owners. Altogether the real estate value of farming land in the U.S. amounted to more than two trillion U.S. dollars.
The United States is a major player in the global trade of agricultural products. In 2015, exports of agricultural products were worth some 133 billion U.S. dollars. The most important countries of destination were China, Canada, and Mexico. Conversely, imports worth around 113.5 billion U.S. dollars made their way into the United States that year. The principal countries/regions of origin were Canada, the European Union, and Mexico.
Farming also involves significant production costs. A closer look at the composition of these costs shows that feed made up the largest share, followed by costs associated with farm services, livestock and poultry.
Over the last decade, the issue of genetic engineering has increasingly been on the agenda. The United States has by far the highest acreage of genetically modified crops worldwide. Some crops have a very high share of GM crops per species. For example in 2016, some 94 percent of all soybeans planted in the U.S. were genetically modified so as to be herbicide tolerant.
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