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USDA releases Census of Agriculture

USDA releases Census of Agriculture

The number of farms in 2017 was down 3.2 percent from 2012

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

U.S. farmers received an in-depth look at their industry as the USDA published the results from the 2017 Census of Agriculture.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) sent more than three million questionnaires to farmers across the country in 2017. NASS received about 72 percent, or 2.16 million completed forms.

The number of farms in the country has decreased.

The 2017 census counted 2.04 million U.S. farms. That figure is down by 3.2 percent from the 2.1 million farms recorded in 2012.

The number of national acres has also decreased, from 914 million acres in 2012 to 900 million acres in 2017.

The average farm size, however, has grown.

An average U.S. farm spans about 441 acres, the current census shows. That number is up by 1.6 percent from 434 acres in 2012.

From a demographic perspective, farmers are getting older but the number of young and female producers has increased.

An average American farmer is 57.5 years old, the 2017 census found. That age is up from 56.3 years old in 2012.

But one in four producers is a new farmer with fewer than 10 years of experience. Those farmers average 46.3 years old.

And 36 percent of all U.S. farmers are female. More than half of all farms have at least one female decision maker, the census said.

The U.S. ag industry has also witnessed infrastructure improvements since 2012.

More than 75 percent of U.S. farms have Internet access, the 2017 report shows. That figure is up from 69.6 percent in 2012.

A farm organization in at least one state is concerned with its local census findings, however.

New York lost 2,100 farms in five years but that number is just the beginning, said David Fisher, president of the New York Farm Bureau.

“The losses run the gamut, including a 9 percent drop in both the smallest and largest farms in terms of value of sales,” he said in a statement. “New York also saw a nearly 20 percent decline in the number of dairy farms in the state.” has reached out to members of the U.S. ag community for comment on the census results.

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