Nevada is a State of great agricultural possibilities, and agriculture is one of Nevada's important economic drivers, contributing significantly not only to the economic development of rural communities, but also to the State as a whole. Supporting nearly 67,000 jobs on and off the farm, Nevada agriculture generated more than 5.3 billion dollars in 2010 and over $100 million annually in exports.
(Information based on Nevada Department of Agriculture Analysis ).
Range livestock production is predominant in Nevada with well over half of the farms producing cattle or sheep. The highest concentration of cattle is in the northern part of the state. Cow-calf operations are the most common and leading operations, with Elko County ranking second among all counties in the nation in number of beef cows. Northern Nevada is also home to the vast majority of sheep ranches. Nevada's ranches are few in number, but they rank third in the nation in size, averaging 3,500 acres.
Dairying is a growing industry in the state, as is the manufacture of dairy products. The greatest number of dairy operations are in Northern Nevada, but the largest dairies are in the South. The majority of manufacturers are concentrated relatively near the large market centers of Reno and Las Vegas.
Nevada's high desert climate is very well suited to the production of high quality alfalfa hay and alfalfa accounts for over half of the total value of crops produced in the state. Much of the alfalfa is marketed to dairies in California and a significant quantity is exported overseas.
A variety of other high value crops are produced in Nevada, and they include potatoes, barley, winter and spring wheat, corn, oats, onions, garlic and honey.
Food processing has maintained positive job growth trends in Nevada. Nevada’s current food processing employment is primarily in segments related to bakeries, dairy-related manufacturing (ice cream and frozen desserts, fluid milk manufacturing), perishable prepared foods and frozen specialty foods, coffee and tea manufacturing, and confectionary manufacturing from chocolate.
The mission of the GWIB Agriculture Sector Council will be to identify workforce needs and develop needed initiatives to educate its workforce in support of the economic development goals of the state.
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