Census of Ag shows significant decline in U.S. farms and ranches

The USDA has released the results of the 2022 Census of Agriculture and it shows a continued decrease in the number of U.S. farming operations.

“I’m concerned about the state of agriculture and food production in this country,” Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said Tuesday.

Vilsack says the decline is significant. “In 2017 when we did this survey, there were 2,042,220 farms,” he said. “Today, the survey reports we have 1.9 million farms. That’s 142,000 fewer farms in just five years.”

He says the U.S. has lost 20 million acres of farmland in the last five years. “I want to give you a sense of how many acres that is,” Vilsack said. “That’s every New England state, with the exception of Connecticut.”

The ag census data also found that U.S. farms and ranches produced $543 billion in agricultural products, up from $389 billion in 2017.

USDA says the Census of Agriculture helps the agency form its decisions on policy, farm and conservation programs, infrastructure and rural development, research, and education.

Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, says the data is alarming. “The latest census numbers put in black and white the warnings our members have been expressing for years,” Duvall said. “Increased regulations, rising supply costs, lack of available labor and weather disasters have all squeezed farmers to the point that many of them find it impossible to remain economically sustainable.

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