Ag Census: Number of NE Farms Up 5%, Size Down 5%

Ag Census: Number of NE Farms Up 5%, Size Down 5%

Preliminary data from the 2012 Census of Agriculture shows the average number of farms in Nebraska during 2012 was 49,969, up 5% from the 2007 Census of Agriculture, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Land in farms, at 45.3 million acres, remained about the same as that reported five years prior. The average size of farm was 907 acres, down 5% or 46 acres from 2007.

During 2012, the average age of the principal operator remained unchanged from 2007's average age of 56 years. The number of operators under the age of 34 was 4,747, up 42% from 2007 while the number of operators over the age of 65 totaled 13,177, up 1% from 2007.

National Ag Census Numbers

news release with highlights from the national census reported there was an "increase in the value of agricultural products sold in the United States totaling $394.6 billion in 2012, up 33% ($97.4 billion) from 2007.  The number of farms and land in farms were down slightly, but held steady. Additionally, agriculture is becoming more diverse."

Other highlights from the national report:

  • The 2012 Census showed principal farm operators are becoming older and more diverse; following the trend of pervious censuses. In 2012, the average age of a principal farm operator was 58.3 years, up 1.2 years since 2007, and continuing a 30-year trend of steady increase. The Census also accounted for more minority-operated farms in 2012 than in 2007.
  • In 2012, the United States had 2.1 million farms – down 4.3% from the previous Census in 2007. In terms of farm size by acres, this continues an overall downward trend in mid-sized farms, while the smallest and largest-size farms held steady.
  • Between 2007 and 2012, the amount of land in farms in the United States continued a slow downward trend declining from 922 million acres to 915 million. This is only a decline of less than one percent and is the third smallest decline between censuses since 1950.

What Defines a Farm for the Ag Census?

The census defines a farm as "any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year."

Other definitions to remember:

"The acreage designated as "land in farms" consists primarily of agricultural land used for crops, pasture, or grazing. It also includes woodland and wasteland not actually under cultivation or used for pasture or grazing, provided it was part of the farm operator's total operation. Land in farms includes land in conservation programs, including the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Farmable Wetlands Program, and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program."

"Land in farms is an operating unit concept and includes land owned and operated as well as land rented from others."

For more state and national data from the 2012 Ag Census see www.agcensus.usda.gov. On it find data by congressional district; historical census year; race, ethnicity and gender; state and county; and zip code.

Feb. 20, 2014