United States Agriculture


The US economy is one of the best performing in the world. With a gross national income (GNI) of (2017) US $ 58,270 per resident and a gross domestic product (GDP) of (2016) US $ 18,561.9 billion, the USA generates by far the highest GDP of all OECD countries. However, the USA has lost its absolute superiority in world production and world trade compared to western Europe, China and Japan in some areas (e.g. vehicle construction, semiconductor production). The US economy is service-oriented. The economic upswing during the 1980s and increasingly during the 1990s brought a clear structural change in favor of the service sector (structural change) and at the expense of the manufacturing industry.

At the end of the 1990s, there were signs of an economic slowdown, which since 2000, in connection with the weakening world economy, has led to a recession. After a recovery phase from 2002 onwards, the collapse of the real estate market in 2007 triggered not only a US crisis, but also a global financial market crisis. To overcome the recession, the government introduced the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) with a volume of around US $ 814 billion in 2009. This was followed by a ten-year phase with a growing economy and a steady decline in the unemployment rate, from mid-2018 to an average of less than 4%. The annual budget deficit (2009: 10% of GDP) was reduced to 4.4% of GDP by 2016, but grew again to 4.6% by 2019.

Foreign trade: According to internetsailors, the USA represents the world’s largest sales market for imported goods and is – after China – the second largest exporter. Over the past few decades, the US trade volume has increased continuously in value, almost doubling to US $ 3,702.9 billion between 2002 and 2016. The US trade deficit in goods traffic has been chronic for decades. Imports regularly exceed exports. The main export goods are machinery, electronics, motor vehicles and parts, and food. The most important customer countries are Canada and Mexico; The People’s Republic of China, Japan, Great Britain and Germany follow. Imports mainly include electronics, motor vehicles and parts as well as machines and electrotechnical products. The main supplier countries are China, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Germany and South Korea.

On January 1, 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA; North American Free Trade Area) between the USA, Canada and Mexico came into force. At the instigation of the USA, it was renewed and expanded as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on October 1, 2018 (signed).


US agriculture is the world leader. It supplies a large domestic market and has high exports; their services are supported by agrobiological research, mechanization and industrial work organization, e.g. B. by composite systems made possible. A total of 44.7% of the total area of ​​the USA (409 million hectares) is used for agriculture: The majority is used for livestock farming; 155 million hectares are arable land; permanent crops (fruit and vegetables) are grown on 2.7 million hectares; around 20 million hectares are artificially irrigated. Agriculture has been subject to major structural changes in the past few decades. The number of farms decreased from (1940) 6.1 million to (2016) 2.1 million; On average, a farm works 442 acres (179 ha). Organic farming has risen sharply in recent years; At the same time, the cultivation of genetically modified products is also growing. A dual structure emerges, with large industrial companies becoming increasingly important. This is especially the case in animal husbandry (cattle, poultry) and in the cultivation of fruits and vegetables; in grain production, medium-sized family businesses still predominate.

Agriculture only generates 1.0% of GDP and employs around 1.6% of the labor force. The most important crops (in terms of value) are: corn, soybeans, wheat, tomatoes, cotton, citrus fruits, almonds, potatoes and rice. In cattle breeding, cattle breeding dominates over chickens and pigs.

In the USA, the concept of unified agricultural zones (belts) with a dominant main product used to apply, but the regional distribution of agricultural production has become more differentiated. In the southeast, in the former Cotton Belt, cotton cultivation is only limited to small areas in the states of Mississippi and Louisiana, in the other states, on the other hand, poultry farming on large farms is the most important branch. In the former Wheat Belt of the Great Plains, millet cultivation and cattle farming have also gained importance. Fruit, wine and vegetable cultivation dominate in parts of the USA that are climatically favorable or favorable for sales, for example in California (Californian long valley; Californian wines), in the Gulf Coast area, in Florida, but also around the urban regions on the Atlantic coast in the northeast. In the states around the Great Lakes and in the Northeast, dairy farming (Dairy Belt) is still widespread; the corn cultivation south of the lakes is connected with soybean cultivation and pig fattening. Cattle breeding is the most important branch in the drier west of the USA with extensive pasture areas, but mostly the animals are grouped together in large pasture areas (feed lots).

Forestry: The United States has 155 national forests totaling 769,000 km 2 (8.5% of the US land area) under the United States Forest Service; some of them are used for tourism, but private use is also possible. There are major conflicts between conservationists and the timber industry. The most important forest and timber regions are the Pacific Northwest (Wash., Oreg., Calif.) With its valuable conifers and the Southeast with pine and mixed forests, as well as the area of ​​the Rocky Mountains. Two thirds of the logging is coniferous, of which large quantities are exported.

Fisheries: The USA has rich fishing grounds on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, in the Arctic Ocean and in numerous inland lakes. The fishery peaked at the end of the 1980s with an annual catch of around 6 million tonnes and has since declined continuously (2016: 5.4 million tonnes). 70% are for consumption, the rest is used industrially. Herring, cod, Pacific salmon and pollack, a species of cod off Alaska, account for a large share of the catch. In terms of value, salmon and crustaceans (crabs and lobsters, especially on the northern Atlantic coast) are the most important. Recently, aquacultures have developed increasingly.

United States Agriculture