#472. 2012 Census of Agriculture

Posted on | The Agurban

2012 Census of Agriculture

Every five years, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service conducts its Census of Agriculture. Preliminary results from the 2012 Census are beginning to be released. Here are some initial findings:

  • In 2012, the United States had 2.1 million farms – down 4.3 percent from the last agricultural Census in 2007. This continues a long-term trend of fewer farms.
  • Between 2007 and 2012, the amount of land in farms in the United States declined from 922 million acres to 915 million acres. This decline of less than one percent was the third smallest decline between Censuses since 1950.
  • In 2012, the average farm size was 434 acres. This was a 3.8 percent increase over 2007, when the average farm was 418 acres. 
  • Middle-sized farms declined in number between 2007 and 2012. The number of large (1,000 plus acres) and very small (1 to 9 acres) farms did not change significantly in that time. 
  • In 2012, the market values of crops, livestock, and total agricultural products were each record highs. 
  • U.S. farms sold nearly $395 billion in agricultural products in 2012. This was 33 percent – $97.4 billion – more than agricultural sales in 2007. 
  • Crop sales were $68.7 billion more in 2012 than 2007 (a 48 percent increase) and livestock sales were up $28.6 billion (a 19 percent increase).  
  • In 2012, crop sales exceeded livestock sales for only the second time in Census history; the other time was in 1974. 
  • Per farm agricultural sales averaged $187,000 in 2012. This was an increase of more than $52,000 (or 39 percent) over 2007. 
  • In 2012, the average age of principal farm operators was 58.3 years, up 1.2 years since 2007, and continuing a 30-year trend of steady increase. The older age groups all increased in number between 2007 and 2012. 
  • In 2012, the number of beginning farmers – on their current operation less than 10 years – was down 20 percent from 2007. Nearly 172,000 farmers were on their current operation less than 5 years. 
  • 1.0 million operators considered farming their principal occupation in 2012. The number who identified something other than farming as their primary occupation was 9 percent lower in 2012 than 2007. 
  • Between 2007 and 2012, the number of farms decreased in 34 states but increased in 16 states. In several southeastern and mid-western states, the decrease in number of farms was statistically significant. 
  • The amount of land in farms decreased in 31 states but increased in 19 states. 
  • In 25 states, both the number of farms and the amount of land in farms went down. In 10 states, both went up.

To view the full Preliminary Report Highlights, visit here.