2017 Ag Census: more producers, less farms

The USDA has released the results of the 2017 Census which shows while the number of farms is declining slightly, the number of producers is increasing.

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says a change in questioning captured
a better understanding of who’s farming. 

“Do you realize 96 percent of these farms are family owned I think that shows the history, the structure and the strength of American agriculture.”    

In 2017, there were 3.4 million producers, up nearly seven
percent, operating slightly more than two million farms, down three percent. 

“And they cover over nine million acres which is down 1.6 percent, which means we’re losing some arable land in this country which ought to be a concern for all of us for the future.”

Large and small-sized farms are increasing while mid-sized
farms are on the decline.

“Farms with younger producers tended to be larger than farms with older producers.”

The number of female farmers increased nearly 27 percent and
they’re most heavily engaged in the day-to-day decisions along with record
keeping and financial management.

“Thirty-six percent of all producers are female, and 56 percent of all farms have at least one female decision-maker titled boss.”       

Other trends include farmers continue to age, now 57 ½ years-old, which Perdue says, “I don’t think gaining 1.2 years is bad in five years is bad though.”         

Farm wages declined two percent to just over $43,000; farm size
is increasing, up 1.6 percent to more than 440 acres; and internet access is
expanding, up five percent to 75 percent of farms.  Less than half of farmers had a positive net
cash income in 2017.

Farms and ranches produced $388.5 billion in ag products, with
a 50/50 split between crops and livestock. 
Cattle and calve made producers the most money, followed by corn, poultry
and eggs, soybeans and milk.

California leads the nation in ag sales, followed by Iowa,
Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Illinois, North Carolina, Wisconsin and

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue with Ag Census highlights