Number of Nebraska Farms Down 3% from 2002; National Number Up

Number of Nebraska Farms Down 3% from 2002; National Number Up

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources

February 11, 2009

National Census Highlights

  • Family Farm Production. Large family farms (sales between $250,000 and $500,000) and very large family farms (sales over $500,000) made up only 9% of all farms, yet they produced more than 63% of the value of all agricultural products sold.

  • Concentration of Sales. In 2007 farms with more than $1 million in sales produced 59% of U.S. agricultural production, while in 2002, farms in this sales class produced 47 percent of all production.

  • New Farm Descriptors. Farms that began operation between 2003 and 2007 tended to be smaller and have lower sales than all farms nationwide. New farms, on average, had 201 acres and $71,000 in sales. By comparison, the average for all farms in the United Stated was 418 acres and $135,000 in sales.

  • Operators of new farms were more likely to be engaged in occupations other than farming and to derive income from non-farm sources. Only 33% of new farms reported farming as their primary occupation, while 45% of all operators reported farming as their primary occupation. Average operator age for new farms was 48 years, compared to 57 years for all farms.

Nebraska Highlights

  • Crop Sales. Nebraska reported $15,506,035,000 in crop sales in 2007, more than a 60% increase from 2002. Of this 44% was for crops and 56% was for livestock.

  • Production Value. Market value of production per farm was $324,992, more than a 65% increase from 2002.

  • Government Payments. Average per farm government payment was $11,091, a 2% increase from 2002.

For More Information

For the full report (6.58 MB PDF) or highlights, including state and county profiles, go to It includes a number of county-indicated U.S. maps. illustrating the data.

Data from the 2007 Census of Agriculture shows the number of farms in Nebraska during 2007 was 47,712, down 3% from the 2002 Census of Agriculture, according to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, Nebraska Field Office.

Land in farms, at 45.5 million acres, was down 1% from 2002 while the average farm size was 953 acres, up 2%, or 23 acres, from 2002. Market value of production was $15.5 billion, up 60% from 2002. The average value per farm was $325,000, compared to $197,000 in 2002. The number of farms with sales of $500,000 or more was 5,921, up from 2,824 in 2002.

Nationally, between 2002 and 2007, the number of farms with sales of less than$1,000 increased by 118,000. The number of farms with sales of morethan $500,000 grew by 46,000 during the same period.

Most of the growth in U.S. farm numbers came from small operations,where sales of no specific commodity accounted for more than 50%of the total value of production, according to the national report, 2007 Census of Agriculture. Even though the total number of farmsincreased nationwide, many individual sectors of production —including grains and oilseeds, horticulture, cattle and hog operations —saw a decline in farm numbers (see map below).

"The Census of Agriculture is a complete count of the nation's farms and ranches and thepeople who operate them," said Joe Parsons, director of the NASS Nebraska Field Office. "It provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every county in thenation."

In Nebraska during 2007, the average age of the principal operator was 55.9 years compared to 53.9 years in 2002. The number of female principal operators was 4,025, up 34% from 2002.The number of operators of Spanish, Hispanic, or Latino origin was 288.

"The Census helps illustrate growing trends throughout agriculture, both nationally and in Nebraska," said Parsons. 'This is an exciting time for the entire agriculture community because the census is the voice of every farmer and rancher — regardless of size or type of operation."

Complete results of the 2007 Census of Agriculture, including first-ever numbers abouton-farm energy generation, community-supported agriculture arrangements and historic barnsare available at

USDA: Change in number of farms nationally from 2002 to 2007.

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