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Tennessee Economy


Farmland covers about 44% of the state of Tennessee.

In terms of revenue generated Tennessee's top five agricultural products are beef cattle and calves, broilers (young chickens), soybeans, greenhouse and nursery products, and cotton.


The most valuable source of agricultural income in the state is the production of beef cattle followed by broilers (5-12 week-old chickens).

Dairy products, hogs, and chicken eggs are important parts of Tennessee's livestock industry.

Farm chickens, sheep and lambs, wool, and honey also contribute to Tennessee agricultural revenues.


Tennessee's largest crop is the soybean crop, contributing about 11% to the state's total agricultural receipts.

Greenhouse and nursery products, including flowers, ornamental shrubs and fruit trees are also an important part of the state's agricultural economy.

Following the soybean crop, cotton, corn for grain, and tobacco are Tennessee's most important field crops. Wheat, hay, and sorghum grain also contribute.

Fruits and vegetables play a lesser role with tomatoes and snap beans ranking as the most important vegetables and apples and peaches ranking as the leading fruits.

Mushrooms are also grown commercially in Tennessee.

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Manufacturers add value to raw products by creating manufactured items. For example, cotton cloth becomes more valuable than a boll of cotton through manufacturing processes.

Processed foods (grain products, bread, breakfast cereals, flour) are the most important sector of the manufacturing industry in Tennessee. Important contributing beverages are beer, whiskey and soft drinks. Other processed food products include candy, meats, dairy products and vegetable oil.

In the number two manufacturing position is the production of transportation equipment; automobiles; boats; and aircraft equipment. Two major auto manufacturers have plants located in Tennessee. These plants support the automobile parts manufacturers that have grown up around them.

The third-ranking manufacturing activity of the Volunteer State revolves around chemicals. Tennessee is a leading producer, providing industrial chemicals, paints, pharmaceuticals, plastics resins and soaps.


Limestone deposits provide the largest chunk of Tennessee's mining economy in the form of crushed stone, used for building roads and producing cement.

Coal is the state's second most valuable mined product followed by zinc.

Clays, phosphate rock and sand and gravel are also mined in Tennessee.


Community, business and personal services produce the most income for Tennessee's economy. The most important services include private health care, law firms, motels and business services. Important regional health centers, colleges of medicine and large hospitals are found in metropolitan areas across the state. One of the world's largest delivery services and one of the state's largest employers is headquartered in Memphis. Tourism, a year-round affair, contributes in this category.

Ranking second is the wholesale trade and retail trade services group. Connected to other large metropolitan areas via road systems, railroads and the Mississippi River, Memphis is a leading national wholesale distribution center. Important retail operations are restaurants, grocery stores and car dealerships.

The finance, insurance and real estate services group ranks third in contribution to Tennessee's service economy. Nashville and Memphis are Tennessee's leading banking centers.

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