Since the 19th century when St. Louis was nationally famous as a mineral health spa, it has maintained a sound economy with agriculture as one of its key components.
Because St. Louis is situated in some of Michigan's most fertile land, agriculture has always provided a solid economic base. In 2005 agriculture produced approximately $122 million of income in Gratiot County. An abundance of nearly every major crop is grown around St. Louis and the area is known for its fine dairy cattle, feeder cattle and hogs. Gratiot County is known as the state's largest producer of cucumbers and sugar beets. The county is also one of the leading corn and soybean suppliers and in 2002 it had the second highest percentage (67.9%) of land in cropland.
Farmers in Gratiot County formed the Gratiot Soil Conservation District on April 28, 1952 to address water erosion, soil blowing and removal of excess water.
About 288,932 acres were farms in 2002. Of this total, 253,632 acres were in cropland. In 2006 soy beans were the main row crop and 82,500 acres were harvested. Corn was harvested from 77,200 acres for grain and 7,400 acres for silage. Dry beans were harvested from 12,000 acres and wheat from 25,200 acres with sugar beets being harvested from 11,200 acres.
Gratiot County has 1,018 farms and is one of the leading counties in the state in pounds of milk produced per cow. Nearly 376 million pounds of milk have been produced annually in Gratiot County from 43 dairy farms.
Markets necessary to local farming are found in St. Louis. Great Lakes Cattle Marketing and the United Producers Incorporated provide a competitive market for livestock. In 2005, approximately 59,000 head of livestock were on inventory in Gratiot County with an estimated value of nearly $20 million.
The Michigan State University Extension program has been a long time presence in the St. Louis area working with issues related to agriculture. To view their website, CLICK HERE