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Census: fewer farms, more women producers in Indiana

The 2017 Census of Ag shows the total number of farms in Indiana is declining and the average age of the farmer is increasing.

There are 57,000 farms in Indiana, a more than 3 percent decline from the last census, and the average age of the Hoosier farmer is about 56.

But, Indiana State Statistician Greg Matli says there was an increase in the number of beginning farmers and women farmers.

“We have 23,262 producers with 10 years or less on a farm,” he says. “We also saw a big increase in the number of female producers- that’s up 30 percent to 31,225.”

Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Bruce Kettler says the census highlights how diverse the state’s ag industry is.

“We’re a very diversified state in terms of our crops, in terms of our livestock, and the products we can bring to a company,” he says.

Audio: Bruce Kettler, Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director

Kettler says census data will also help drive strategic efforts, including a rural economic development model, in the state.

“We intended all along to update that model with this new census data,” he says. “What that will allow us to do is to have the latest figures and know exactly what agriculture assets we have in the state and where they’re located.”

Matli tells Brownfield the census also shows that more conservation is happening on Hoosier farms.

“In cropland for which intensive tillage practices were used we lost close to 800,000 acres in that practice and we increased almost a million acres in cropland in which reduced tillage and no till practices were used,” he says.

Audio: Greg Matli, Indiana State Statistician

Indiana’s top five agricultural products sold by market value in 2017 were: grains, oilseeds, dry beans and dry peas at $6.7 billion; poultry and eggs at $1.3 billion; hogs and pigs at $1.3 billion; milk from cows at $708 million; and cattle and calves at $510 million.

For the first time, the census collected data on military service and showed that nearly 8,000 Hoosier farmers were serving in 2017 or had prior service.

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