Census of AG: Fewer, Bigger Farms

April 18, 2019

The U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled the 2017 Census of Agriculture, providing a wealth of new data on production agriculture in the United States.  Since the last census in 2012, both the number of farms and the amount of land in farms fell slightly.  The long trend of a smaller number of large farms producing most of the nation’s crop and livestock output continues.  Among the census findings:

  • All land in farms fell 1.6 percent, to 900 million acres.
  • There are now 2.04 million farms and ranches in the country, 3.2 percent fewer than in 2012.
  • Three-quarters of crop and livestock production comes from just 105,000 farms.
  • Farms and ranches with gross revenue above $1 million produced two-thirds of the output.
  • The average farmer is 57.5, more than a year older than the average in 2012. However, one in four producers has fewer than ten years’ farming experience; this group’s average age is 46.3.
  • More than one-third of all producers are women, and more than half of all farms have at least one female decision-maker, most often engaged in financial management and record-keeping.