Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom logo AgMag logo

Agriculture Helping you every day

What is a Commodity?


A commodity is a raw agricultural product that someone grows or raises in order to sell it, not to use it themselves. That makes commodities very important. What if every person had to grow or make everything they need to survive? It would be very hard. Not everyone lives somewhere that they can grow food. Not everyone has enough time to do that. Farmers are providers of necessary commodities like different kinds of food, materials to make things like clothes, paper, furniture, and feed for animals.

Minnesota is a major provider of commodities. We have farmers growing and developing commodities that are sold to people not just in Minnesota, but across the U.S. and even many countries around the world.

How did Minnesota become such a key source of commodities? It is due in part to the variety of soil types, terrains, and growing seasons that are good for farming. Different parts of the state are good for growing different things:

  • Northwest: This area has flat land with fertile prairie soils. It gets the moisture it needs to grow several commodities, including wheat, oats, soybeans, sugarbeets, and potatoes.
  • Northeast: This area is rough and rocky and has a short growing season. That means not many food crops are grown here. But it is home to many pine and hardwood forests, which can be harvested to make things like paper, furniture, plywood, toothpicks, even popsicle sticks!
  • Central/ Southeast: This area is hilly and full of pasturelands. Here you will find many dairy, cattle, and turkey farms.
  • Southwest: This area in the southern part of the state has a longer growing season. Corn and soybeans grow well here. There are also many cattle and hog farms.

Now that you know what a commodity is, let's learn about some of the different commodities Minnesota is known for!