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2012 Census of Agriculture reveals new farming trends

Posted by Teresa Steckler -

I have been waiting for the 2012 Census of Ag.  There is always something interesting however here are the highlights. 

*  The 2012 Census of Agriculture shows a nationwide drop in land devoted to agricultural production from 922 million acres in 2007 to less than 915 million acres. 
-  States with the largest percentage declines in land devoted to agriculture were: Kentucky- 6.7 percent, Alaska- 5.4 percent, Georgia- 5.2 percent, Mississippi- 4.6 percent and Wisconsin- 4.1 percent.
-  Increases in land in farms were reported in 19 states. The largest percentage gains were in: Maine- 7.9 percent, Connecticut- 7.6 percent, Florida- 3.4 percent, Rhode Island- 2.6 percent, and Virginia- 2.4 percent.

*  According to the latest release there are now 3.2 million farmers operating 2.1 million farms on 914.5 million acres of farmland across the U.S.  Some findings are revealing:

*  Both sales and production expenses reached record highs in 2012. U.S. producers sold $394.6 billion worth of agricultural products, but it cost them $328.9 billion to produce these products.

*  Three quarters of all farms had sales of less than $50,000, producing only 3% of the total value of farm products sold while those with sales of more than $1 million — 4% of all farms — produced 66%.

* Much of the increased farm income was concentrated geographically or by farm categories.

* California led the nation with 9 of the 10 top counties for value of sales.

*  The top 5 states for agricultural sales were California ($42.6 billion); Iowa ($30.8 billion); Texas ($25.4 billion); Nebraska ($23.1 billion); and Minnesota ($21.3 billion).

*  Eighty-seven percent of all U.S. farms are operated by families or individuals.

*  Principal operators were on average 58.3 years old and were predominantly male; second operators were slightly younger and most likely to be female; and third operators were younger still.

*  Young, beginning principal operators who reported their primary occupation as farming increased 11.3% from 36,396 to 40,499 between 2007 and 2012.

*  144,530 farm operators reported selling products directly to consumers. In 2012, these sales totaled more than $1.3 billion (up 8.1% from 2007).

* Farms with internet access rose from 56.5% in 2007 to 69.6% in 2012.

*  57,299 farms produced on-farm renewable energy, more than double the 23,451 in 2007.

*  474,028 farms covering 173.1 million acres were farmed with conservation tillage or no-till practices.

*  Corn and soybean acres topped 50% of all harvested acres for the first time.

AND most important of all:

*  The largest category of operations was beef cattle with 619,172 or 29% of all farms and ranches in 2012 specializing in cattle.


If you want to look at the data here's the link:  2012 Ag Census Data



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