The number of young farmers, age 25 to 34 years, in the Southwest is going up in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
Overall nationwide, between 2007 and 2012, per farm average value of sales increased from $137,807 to $187,093, continuing a steady 30-year upward trend. The increase of $52,285 was the largest rise in census history.
Nationally, the 2012 census reported little change in the amount of farmland, a more diverse principal operator population, and several historic changes in value of sales for U.S. agriculture producers from 2007 to 2012.
Overall, the U.S. had 2.1 million farms in 2012, down 4.3 percent compared to the 2007 census. In terms of farm size by acres, the decline continued a downward trend in mid-sized farms, while the smallest and largest-size farms held steady.
The average age of a principal farm operator was 58.3, up 1.2 years since 2007, and continuing a 30-year trend of steady increase. More minority-operated farms were also counted in 2012 than in 2007. In 2012, the value of agriculture products sold totaled $394.6 billion, up 33 percent ($97.4 billion) from 2007.
“The release of the preliminary 2012 Census of Agriculture results is only a first look at the data and NASS is eager to publish the final report this May,” said NASS Administrator Cynthia Clark. “The 2012 census was not conducted in a typical crop year, and drought had a major impact on U.S. agriculture, affecting crop yields, production and prices. NASS is still reviewing all 2012 census items to the county level and therefore data are preliminary until published in the final report.”
Conducted since 1840, the Census of Agriculture accounts for all U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. When available in May, USDA-NASS says the final report will provide more detailed information on all farm operators and data down to the county level.
For more information about the census, including access to the 2012 Census of Agriculture preliminary report and the full report when it is released in May, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov.