A look at farming and agriculture in the Elk River Area

A look at farming and agriculture in the Elk River Area Main Photo

3 Aug 2022


Despite only having the 14th largest land mass, Minnesota is ranked fifth in the country for agricultural production. In 2015, the 74,000 farms in Minnesota produced $18.9 billion in agricultural products that fed and supplied people around the world. More than 340,000 Minnesotans have jobs in agriculture.

Minnesota’s largest agricultural commodities are corn, soybeans, hogs, cattle, and dairy. The state is also a top producer of sugar beets, oats, turkeys, and wild rice.

A notable history of agriculture and dairy farming in Elk River

In the latter half of the 19th century, agriculture and dairy farming replaced lumber as the base of Elk River’s economy. Today, Elk River is a modern, dynamic city with a strong industrial base paired with a long-term commitment to sustainability and green technologies, hence the city’s tagline: ‘Powered by Nature’. However, agriculture is still an important component of the local economy.  

Did you know?!

The Oliver Kelley Farm is recognized as "the birthplace of organized agriculture in America." Oliver Hudson Kelley and his family began farming the land on the banks of the Mississippi River in 1850. Kelley was the founder of the first successful national farming organization, the Patrons of Husbandry, better known as the Grange. On July 19, 1964, the Oliver Kelley Homestead on the banks of the Mississippi River in Elk River was designated as a National Historic Landmark. During 2015 to 2017, the farm underwent an expansion that includes a new visitor center and exhibits that tell a broader and more contemporary story of food and agriculture in Minnesota.

Cargill, Inc is a privately held American global food corporation,  with business connections in over 70 countries. Elk River is one of five global innovation centers in the Cargill Animal Nutrition and Health enterprise and serves as a hub of the company’s global network of 15 animal nutrition research and technology application centers.  Cargill conducts research on a campus of approximately 800 acres. In April this year, it broke ground on a $50 million project to expand and renovate its research and development facility in Elk River. First opened in 1958 and located 30 minutes from the company’s headquarters, the Elk River Animal Nutrition Innovation Center has seen a few renovations over the years, but none as robust as this one. The expansion will create more opportunities for additional hires in the coming years due to more capacity and lab testing needs, the company said. The updates include a new laboratory and upgrades to the location’s animal facility, dairy innovation unit, feed mill, and visitor’s space.


Although Minnesota’s crop economy is known mostly for its corn and soybeans, and Sherburne County’s non-urban economy is driven by aggregates, the area does stand out for its home to one crop: potatoes. The area around Elk River is among the largest production of potatoes in the State, with several large farms.   Many potatoes are shipped to the East Coast and Canada.  

You Can Depend on Us for Help Growing Your Business 

In business, it truly is about who you know and finding people that can help you to achieve success quickly. We can help you to make informed decisions that will reduce stress and bring stability to your business. 

The City of Elk River Economic Development staff can assist companies with accessing resources and financing to enable renovations, equipment upgrades, or infrastructure improvements. They can also advocate for businesses when needed to ensure the business development and expansion process is streamlined as much as possible. Contact us here today.