The recently released 2012 Census of Agriculture will shape government policy, business decisions and other important issues for the next several years. It also is being parsed for facts and figures that are just plain interesting. Here’s a look at some of the highlights, including from our four-state area of Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming:
2.1 million farms: This represents 4.3 percent fewer farms than in 2007, the last time the Census took a close look at agriculture. In all, 34 states counted fewer farms. Even though Iowa was among them, it still ranked third in the nation for farmsteads, behind Texas and Missouri. Meanwhile, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming bucked the trend with upticks in the number of farms operating within their borders.
915 million farm acres: Yes, this is fewer farm acres than in 2007 – but by less than one percent. The U.S. hasn’t seen such a small decline in farm acres since the 1950 Census.
$394.6 billion in sales of ag products: The value of U.S. ag products rose 33 percent, topping the 2007 sales figure by $97.4 billion. Sixty-six percent of this value was produced by the 4 percent of farms with sales of more than $1 million. By comparison, three quarters of all farms had sales of less than $50,000, producing only 3 percent of the total value of farm products sold.
Iowa ($30.8 billion) and Nebraska ($23.1 billion) ranked among the Top 10 states in sales – second and fourth respectively.
$328.9 billion in production expenses: The cost of producing all these ag products hit a record high in 2012, rising about 36 percent nationally. The higher production costs in South Dakota mirrored the national average. But costs in the rest of our territory outpaced the nation, rising by 53 and 55 percent in Iowa and Nebraska, respectively, and 60 percent in Wyoming.
58.3 years of age: The average age of principal operators – most of whom are men -- rose from 57.1 in 2007 and 55.3 in 2002. Second operators in 2012 tended to be a bit younger and mostly women. Third operators were younger still.
40,499 young and beginning operators: This represents an 11.3 percent increase in the number of young and beginning principal operators who count farming as their primary occupation.
You can find more information about the 2012 Census at: http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/index.php