February 5, 2009
The every-five-year Census of Agriculture released yesterday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows “a continuation in the trend towards more small and very large farms and fewer mid-sized operations.” The comprehensive report noted, between 2002 and 2007, the number of farms with sales of less than $2,500 increased by 74,000, while the number of farms with sales of more than $500,000 grew by 46,000 over the same period.
In addition to looking at farm numbers, operator demographics and economic aspects of farming, the Census of Agriculture delves into numerous other areas, including organic, value-added, and specialty production, all of which are on the rise.
The 2007 Census found that 57 percent of all farmers have internet access, up from 50 percent in 2002. For the first time in 2007, the census also looked at high-speed Internet access. Of those producers accessing the Internet, 58 percent reported having a high-speed connection.
Other “firsts” in the 2007 Census include questions about on-farm energy generation, community-supported agriculture arrangements and historic barns.
The Census of Agriculture, conducted every five years, is a complete count of the nation’s farms and ranches and the people who operate them. It provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive agricultural data for every county in the nation. Census results are available online at www.agcensus.usda.gov.