Rural Issue

More farmers, fewer farms

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

In 2017, there were 3.4 million producers, up nearly seven percent, operating slightly more than two million farms, down three percent.  Large and small-sized farms are increasing while mid-sized farms are on the decline.

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.

Other trends include farmers continue to age, now 57 ½ years-old; declining farm wages, down two percent to just over $43,000; increasing farm size, up 1.6 percent to more than 440 acres; and increasing internet access, 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 calves made producers the most money, followed by corn, poultry and eggs, soybeans and milk.

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