Highlights from the 2017 US census of agriculture revealed

Last week, Thursday, April 11, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) announced the results of the 2017 Census of Agriculture.

The census report includes 6.4 million data points about America’s farms and ranches; including the number of farms, the land in farms, the total value of production, demographics and more at national, state and county levels.

The census is regularly conducted once every five years and it still is today sent to every known farm and ranch in the United States.

The census reveals that “both farm numbers and land in farms have ongoing small percentage declines since the last census in 2012”.

In addition, it shows that there continues to be more larger and smaller operations and fewer middle-sized farms.

Highlights from the census reveal:
  • There are 2.04 million farms and ranches – down 3.2% from 2012;
  • The average farm size is 441ac – up 1.6%, on a total area of 900 million acres – down 1.6%;
  • The 273,000 smallest farms (1-9ac) make up 0.1% of all farmland, where as 85,127 of the largest farms (2,000ac or more) make up 58% of farmland;
  • Just 105,453 farms produced 75% of all sales in 2017 – down from 119,908 in 2012.
  • Average farm income is $43,053. A total of 43.6% of farms had positive net cash farm income in 2017;
  • 96% of farms and ranches are family owned;
  • Farms with internet access rose from 69.6% in 2012 to 75.4% in 2017;
  • A total of 133,176 farms and ranches use renewable energy production systems – more than double the 57,299 in 2012.

“The census data will help make informed decisions about agricultural education, research, farm programmes, rural development and much more over the next several years,” said the US secretary of agriculture, Sonny Perdue.

Also speaking at the launch, NASS administrator Hubert Hamer said: “We can all use the census to tell the tremendous story of US agriculture and how it is changing.

“As a data-driven organisation, we are eager to dig into this wealth of information to advance our goals of supporting farmers and ranchers, facilitating rural prosperity and strengthening stewardship of private lands efficiently, effectively and with integrity.

“The census shows new data that can be compared to previous censuses for insights into agricultural trends and changes down to the county level.”