Information about Agriculture

Questions about agriculture are most commonly asked in libraries in rural Minnesota - but some types of questions, especially those on gardening and pet care, may be asked anywhere. You might, for example, be asked:

These questions cover a broad range of topics, but they all fall under the subject of agriculture. Most deal with statistics, consumer, or how-to-do-it information.

Statistics on Agriculture

The Census of Agriculture is conducted every five years by the U.S. government (the most recent one was 2002). It covers statistics such as number of farms, average acreage, number of farmers who also work off the farm, and individual crop production statistics by state and county. Each state is covered by a separate volume, so having a copy of the U.S. summary and your state's volume will help answer many of these statistical questions. Government Depository libraries in your area will also have this publication.

The annual AGRICULTURAL STATISTICS (U.S.) and MINNESOTA AGRICULTURAL STATISTICS (free to libraries) also provide agricultural data.

Repair Manuals

Farm equipment repair manuals are almost as popular as automobile repair manuals in rural libraries. There are many brands and models and years of tractors, and no library can hold enough shop manuals to satisfy everyone. It helps to find out which manuals other libraries in your area own.

Other Sources of Agricultural Information

Agricultural colleges such as the University of Minnesota at Waseca or Crookston, or North Dakota State University, and community colleges that offers courses in agriculture, such as those at Willmar, Worthington, Rochester or Austin, are excellent sources to refer patrons to for information.

You will find your county extension agent is also a valuable resource for agricultural information. Not only will they help in answering questions, but they offer extension bulletins and pamphlets at to libraries in Minnesota at the same discounted prices as those paid by the extension office. Write your county extension agent's name and number here for quick referral (if you don't know their name, call the county offices and ask):

ATTRA (which stands for Appropriate Technology for Rural Areas) is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is a FREE service which provides information on non-traditional crops, diversified agriculture, sustainable agriculture, and agricultural marketing. Although the information they send may take several weeks to arrive, the results are usually well worth the wait, as they often send a large amount of printed material. They have a TOLL-FREE number:

ATTRA 1-800-346-9140

The National Agricultural Library has specialized Information Centers to help you with special requests: Ag Trade & Marketing; Animal Welfare; Rural Information Center; Biotechnology; Alternative Farming; Food & Nutrition; Aquaculture; Food Irradiation; and Horticulture. To request information from any of these centers or to request a document, call the National Agriculture Library weekdays between 7:30am and 3:30pm at:

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This page was updated December 6, 2003.