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US Agriculture getting bigger:Census

By: Jake Putnam
Published in Podcast on  April 16, 2019

Washington—Farmers and ranchers across the nation are getting bigger, but there are fewer, that's according to the USDA’s Census of Agriculture just released and reveals that the majority of US farms are family owned.

"We can all use the Census to tell the tremendous story of U.S. agriculture and how it is changing," U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a written statement.

The Census is a ground level snapshot of what’s going on in US agriculture.

“The Power of the census is the ability to visualize and understand important change for key topics in agriculture at the national, state and county level,” said Joe Parsons of the USDS Ag Statistics Board.

The 2017 Ag census covers a broad range of topics about crops, farmers, farms and contains more than 6 million unique pieces of data. Gems like two years ago American farms were not making money and farmers and ranchers are getting older, and smaller farms are selling out.

“There were 2.04 million farm and ranches, that's down 3.2 percent from 2012,” said Parsons who adds that there were roughly 900 million acres in the country devoted to agricultural uses.

“And its roughly made up of equal parts of permanent pasture and cropland each at about 400-million acres a piece and then about another 100 million that is woodland and other uses,” said Parsons.

The 2017 Ag census looked into what crops are being planted more, which crops were planted less compared to five years ago, important information for farmers and the changing ag demographic. With the 3 percent drop in farms from 2012.

“The number of farmers in the US decreased by more than 67-thousand farms, many in the mid-sized category 50-499 acres,” according to Parsons. “Looking back across the five year period the largest change in crop acres was in soybeans which were up 14 million acres in 2017 compared to 2012.”

This is the 29th Census of Agriculture, based on millions of responses by grassroots farmers across the nation.

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