Historically, Oklahoma agriculture has meant cattle and wheat to most people — and rightfully so. They’re the second largest beef cattle producing state in the nation and the fourth largest producer of wheat.
But Oklahoma agriculture in the 21st century is much more than beef and wheat. Crops and livestock that were once relatively small in terms of production have grown dramatically in recent years. For example, poultry and swine, respectively, are their second and third largest agricultural industries and Oklahoma is now one of the top states in their production.
From the arid High Plains of the panhandle to the forests of southeastern Oklahoma, there aren't many North American crops not grown in the state. Fields of wheat and corn are next-door neighbors to vineyards and organically grown specialty crops. And while many people continue to view Oklahoma as one of the Plains States, they have over 6 million acres of commercial timber production, which contributes over $2.6 billion to their economy each year.
Agriculture has changed to meet demand and the realities of modern economics but farmers markets and marketing cooperatives still let consumers meet the farmers who grow their food face-to-face. The future of agriculture will require a new vision as they face evolving technologies and demands. The role agriculture plays is ever changing in the areas of production and environmental demands. The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry is excited about these challenges and is addressing them with zeal and enthusiasm.
For a look at our local food initiatives, click here and here.