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Kentucky’s Popular Agricultural Commodities

The Bluegrass state has a vast and diverse agricultural industry. Kentucky’s agricultural production ranges from Beef Cattle, Tobacco, Corn, and Horses. The agricultural industry in Kentucky is constantly changing to support the ever-changing consumer demands.

Kentucky is the largest beef producing state east the Mississippi River. The Bluegrass Stockyards is also the largest cattle marketing facility east of the Mississippi River. It was rebuilt in 2017 after a fire burned the original yards. The Bluegrass Stockyard’s is now a tourist attraction as there is no other stockyards in the United States like it.

Kentucky is the largest producer of Burley Tobacco in the U.S. Burley, dark fire-cured and dark air-cured are the 3 types of tobacco that Kentucky farmers grow. None the less, 90% of tobacco production in KY is still in Burley tobacco. Burley tobacco is grown in 119 of the 120 counties in Kentucky. Primarily, Burley tobacco is used for cigarette production.

Corn in Kentucky is considered to be a top crop in terms of acres and cash receipts. In 2017, corn production in Kentucky was at 217 million bushels. The average yield was at a record high in 2017 at 178 bushels per acre. Poultry, beef, dairy, and hogs are huge consumers of Kentucky’s corn. 40-50% of Kentucky’s corn goes to feeding livestock. Another huge Kentucky industry is the bourbon industry. 15-20 million bushels are used in the production of bourbon and spirits.

Kentucky’s horse industry has nearly a $3 billion economic impact in Kentucky. Thoroughbreds top the list being the most popular breed, followed by Quarter Horses, Tennessee Walkers and Saddlebreds. Other popular breeds included, donkey/mules, Mountain Horse Breeds and Standardbreds. Of all the expenditures in the equine industry, approximately 75% of the profitability ends up staying in Kentucky’s economy.

Beef Cattle, tobacco, corn, and horses are not Kentucky’s only prized commodities. Kentucky has other commodities that are part of the driving force of the United States agricultural economy. Kentucky has recently expanded their growth of agricultural enterprises into hemp, while there is an ample amount of hemp in the fields Kentucky is still finding new ways to market and grow the crop for profit . Other commodities popular commodities in Kentucky and their national rank include: Other Hay – #4, Broiler Production- #7, All Hay- #12, Soybeans- #17, Wheat- #18, Swine- #18, Dairy Goats- #23, Alfalfa and Mixed Hay- #26, Egg Production- #28 and Dairy Cows-#29.



“State Rankings by Hogs and Pigs Inventory.” Pork Checkoff, www.pork.org/facts/stats/structure-and-productivity/state-rankings-by-hogs-and-pigs-inventory/.

“Kentucky Corn Facts.” Kentucky Corn Growers Association, www.kycorn.org/ky-corn-facts.

“Kentucky’s Equine Industry Has $3 Billion Economic Impact.” Kentucky Equine Survey | Equine Programs, equine.ca.uky.edu/news-story/kentuckys-equine-industry-has-3-billion-economic-impact.

Kentucky Equine Research Staff. “Facts from the Kentucky Horse Industry Survey.” Kentucky Equine Research, 20 Dec. 2017, ker.com/equinews/facts-kentucky-horse-industry-survey/.

“Overview of Kentucky’s Tobacco Economy.” University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Services, http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/aec/aec83/aec83.pdf

“Kentucky Agriculture Facts – Second Edition.” Commodity Booklet 2015, https://cdn.kyfb.com/KYFB/assets/File/Federation/Kentucky%20Ag/CommodityBooklet2015.pdf


For more facts about agriculture check out:
Kentucky Governor’s Office of Agriculture Policy
American Farm Bureau Federation