Daviess County farmers responsible for impressive amount of ag products

February 25, 2024 | 12:15 am

Updated February 25, 2024 | 1:54 am

File photo

Chicken sandwiches at every Chick-fil-A for 4 months. Breakfast sausage for every local public school student for 46 years. A million McDonald’s apple pies and 1.4 million quarterpounders. Local farmers on Saturday said Daviess County produces the equivalent of those eye-popping numbers and many more — every year. Still, soybean and corn dominate local agriculture, with Daviess County ranking 1st and 2nd in the production of those commodities statewide in the latest census.

The 44th Annual Farm City Breakfast was held Saturday morning at Daviess County High School, bringing together farmers, politicians, and community members to celebrate the local agriculture economy.

U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie gave brief remarks and Ryan Quarles, president of the Kentucky Community & Technical College System and the state’s former Commissioner of Agriculture, was the featured speaker.

But it was young local farmers who stole the show.

It’s easy to simply say Daviess County has a rich farming history and is an agricultural hub for the state, but without context or points of reference, it’s just as easy to not grasp how true that is.

Take in these numbers for Daviess County’s ag production — keeping in mind they represent a single year’s worth of work:


Information according to the latest Census of Agriculture (2022) and Brandon Gilles, 1st Vice President of Kentucky Farm Bureau.

  • Daviess County is home to approximately 270,000 acres of farmland. For reference, a football field is approximately 1.3 acres. 
  • Daviess County is home to nearly 975 farm businesses (meaning different farms owned by different families) and about 100 agricultural-related businesses (such as equipment, processing, and input suppliers).
  • Daviess County ranked 1st in Kentucky in 2022 for soybean production with 115,000 acres producing approximately 6.7 million bushels.
  • Daviess County ranked 2nd in Kentucky in 2022 for corn production with about 87,000 acres producing over 15.6 million bushels.


Information according to the latest Census of Agriculture (2022) and Daniel Hayden of Hayden Farms.

  • Daviess County raises approximately 10.8 million chickens. That’s enough to provide chicken sandwiches at all of Chick-fil-A’s restaurants for 4 months. 
  • Daviess County produces more than 400,000 butterball turkeys.


Information from George Bittel of Bittel Heritage Meats.

  • Daviess County produces more than 65 million pounds of pork. That would be enough sausage patties to serve every student in Owensboro and Daviess County public schools breakfast every morning for more than 46 years.


Information from Jim Gilles of Hill View Farm Meats

  • Daviess County raises more than 8,000 head of cattle. That would provide enough beef for 1.5 million quarterpounder hamburgers at McDonald’s.

Fruits and vegetables

Information from Suzanne Cecil White of Cecil Farms

  • Daviess County raises about 25,000 quarts of strawberries, enough to make 200,000 jars of freezer jam.
  • Daviess County raises about 20,000 pecks of peaches/800,000 peaches, enough for 500,000 servings of peach cobbler.
  • Daviess County raises about  5,250 bushels of apples, which would make more than 1 million McDonald’s apple pies.
  • Daviess County raises about enough bell peppers to make over 550,000 fajitas at the local Mexican restaurants.
  • Daviess County raises more than 20,000 boxes of tomatoes. At 400,000 slices, that would be enough for 2 million BLT sandwiches (with 2 slices per sandwich) at Great Harvest Bread Company.
  • Daviess County raises about 33 million pounds of watermelon.
  • There are more than 1,000 bee hives in Daviess County. With about 50,000 bees per hive in peak season, that’s 50 million bees in production, not counting wild bees. That would produce 50,000 1-pound bottles of squeeze honey.

Brandon Gilles said Daviess County’s production, combined with the intermodal transportation options including the river, make it a leader in the state’s ag economy. He also noted the variety of grains, livestock, and produce across the county.

“The commodity that dominates Daviess County agriculture is grain — so corn and soybeans — but poultry is close behind. Then we have beef cattle and produce, so we’re a very diverse ag economy in Daviess County,” he said. “That’s pretty unique to our area. There are not a lot of other counties across the state that are as diverse as Daviess County.”

Quarles also spoke on Daviess County’s ag production.

“Daviess County punches above its weight class,” he said. “If you add up all the value, the amount of agricultural products that leave this county exceeds $185 million annually. That’s big economic output.”

Much of the talk during the Farm City breakfast related to the importance of ensuring the next generation maintains the agricultural output of years past.

Quarles said there are 76,000 farms across the Commonwealth, with 96% of them being owned and operated by families.

“Agriculture is all about generations and passing that torch to the next generation,” he said. “… We have a big generational issue about to occur in American agriculture. We have $20 trillion worth of land and assets that are about to transition to the next generation. Now is a great time to sit down and think about who’s going to fill those shoes on Kentucky farms. There’s no better way to do that than having a plan.”

Gilles echoed Quarles, adding that most families are dedicated to preserving what was built by past generations.

“The majority of farms have multiple family members that are involved in the operation,” he said. “It’s a strong partnership amongst the family to be able to continue that legacy on the farm.”

February 25, 2024 | 12:15 am

Share this Article

Other articles you may like