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Roasted turkey on tray garnished with red grapes, figs, kumquat, and herbs over white background

Celebrate National Ag Day with these Upper Midwest ag facts

Each year, the Agriculture Council of America sponsors National Ag Day, which this year falls on March 14. National Ag Week runs from March 10-16.

National Ag Day has been held since 1973 and is a way to increase public awareness of agriculture's vital role in our society. The event includes an essay contest and video essay contest. This year, the essay contest winner was Grace Brose from Box Elder, S.D. She will receive a $1,000 prize and travel to Washington, D.C., for recognition during the National Press Club Event on March 14. The video essay contest winner was Jacob Kandell from Mason, Ohio. He will win a $1,000 prize for his video. To view the winners' entries, visit

For those of us who work in agriculture, every day is Ag Day. We know and understand how things we eat, wear and use originate from farms and ranches around the world. But as the general population moves further and further from the farm and rural life, it doesn't hurt to have a reminder that what we do impacts everyone.

To celebrate, we thought it would be fun to look at some of the products that our region brings to consumers.


If there was a turkey on your table at Thanksgiving, there's a good chance it came from Minnesota. Minnesota was the nation's top turkey raising state in the U.S. in 2017, with 42 million birds. The Minnesota Turkey Growers Association says each turkey generates $17.46 of direct economic activity to the state. Turkeys also support some of the state's other big ag commodities, consuming $163 million of corn and $169 million of soybean meal each year. Minnesota in 2017 also lead the nation in production of green peas, oats, red kidney beans, sugar beets and sweet corn.


Montana has been the nation's leader in pulse crops since 2011. The state grew more than half of the country's lentils in 2017, with 727,342 acres. Montana also grew 541,465 acres of dry peas and 267,098 acres of chickpeas in 2017. Pulse crops haven't replaced other traditional crops in Montana and instead have replaced fallow acres in western and northern parts of the state.

North Dakota

If breads and pastas are on the menu, you have North Dakota to thank. The state led the nation in spring wheat and durum wheat for 2017 and was second in all wheat production. North Dakota produced half of the U.S. crop of spring wheat and more than half of the durum. The U.S. Durum Growers Association says North Dakota grows about 80 percent of nation's 100 million bushels of durum, and one 60-pound bushel makes about 42 pounds of pasta or roughly 210 servings of spaghetti.

South Dakota

Baseball season is coming up, and it's time to stock up on a dugout staple, sunflower seeds — which probably started out in a South Dakota field. No state produces as many confectionary sunflowers as South Dakota. In fact, the state produced 155.4 million pounds of confectionary sunflowers in 2017 — nearly half of the 311.632 million pounds of non-oil sunflowers in the U.S. South Dakota also led in oil sunflower production, with 884 million pounds.