The number of young farmers, age 25 to 34 years, in the Southwest is going up in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
According to the preliminary census update, New Mexico has significant increases in the number of farms, young farmers, and minority farmers. The census shows 24,721farms and ranches in New Mexico, an 18 percent increase from the 2007 census. That stands in contrast to a national decline in the number of farms over the same period. The number of acres being farmed drop slightly according to the census.
The average age of the principal farm operator in New Mexico continued its upward trend, rising from 59.6 years old in 2007 to 60.5 years old in 2012. However, there was also an increase in the number of farmers and ranchers under age 34, jumping from 818 in 2007 to the current tally of 1,200. There was a drop in the number of women farming in New Mexico since the 2007 census.
The total value of agriculture production rose in New Mexico, up to an estimated $2.55 billion, up 17 percent from the 2007 census. Leading the way was a combination of livestock and poultry production and sales, nearly $2 billion of total agricultural value and the lion's share of total agriculture revenue.
In spite of losing a significant number of farms, Oklahoma recorded an increase in the number of younger farmers. In the 25 to 34 age group, Oklahoma experienced a slight increase since the previous census. Overall, the average age for Oklahoma farmers rose from 57.6 to just over 58 years old.
Agricultural land area also decreased statewide by 1.6 percent, and the number of farms dropped by about 3 percent. In spite of fewer farms and fewer farmers, production value did increase slightly since the 2007 census.
About four percent fewer male farmers are farming in Oklahoma now compared to the 2007 census count and about 6 percent fewer women are active in agriculture.