#214. USDA’s 2007 Census of Agriculture – Part II

Posted on | The Agurban

USDA’s 2007 Census of Agriculture – Part II

Last week we discussed the trends in farm numbers, according to the USDA’s 2007 Census of Agriculture report. This week we will touch on the demographics of farms.

According to the report, there is growing ethnic and racial diversity among farm operators nationwide, and the percentage of women operators is up. Of the 2.2 million farms in the U.S., 1.83 million have a white male operator. The number of operators of Hispanic origin increased 10 percent over the five year period, but most significantly, the number of female principal operators increased almost 30 percent during the same timeframe.

We have always kept an eye on the average age of farmers. Unfortunately, the average age increased again from 2002 to 2007, from 55.3 years to 57.1. The number of operators 75 years and older grew by 20 percent from 2002, while the number of operators under 25 years of age decreased 30 percent. It just doesn’t make sense that farmers are the second oldest aged profession in the country (behind draw bridge operators), for a job that is so hazardous.

Most farms in the U.S. are small, with 60 percent of all farms reporting less than $10,000 in sales of agricultural products. The share of farmers working off-farm grew from 55 percent in 2002 to 65 percent in 2007. Also, operators of larger farms tend to be younger, are more likely to report farming as their primary occupation, and are less likely to work off the farm.

Next week, we will wrap up our series on the USDA’s Census of Agriculture, reviewing the economic aspects of farming.

For the complete reports, visit www.agcensus.usda.gov.