Latest U.S. Ag Census shows fewer, but larger farms

The preliminary report of the 2012 Census of Agriculture shows the trend toward fewer farms has continued since the last full census in 2007, although the rate of decline has slowed.

The census also shows the average size of a farm in the United States has increased slightly since the last full census. The preliminary report includes selected data for farmers, ranchers, and their operations for each U.S. state, as well as the country as a whole.

For the census a “farm” is defined as: “any place from which $1,000 of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the Census year.”

Highlights of the preliminary report include:


Number of farms:                      2007: 2,204,792                 2012: 2,109,363 (-4.3%)

Land in farms (acres):              2007: 922,095,840              2012: 914,603,026 (-0.8%)

Average farm size (acres):      2007: 418                          2012: 434 (+3.8%)


Other highlights include:

• In 2012, the United States had 2.1 million farms — down 4.3 percent from the last agricultural Census in 2007. This continues a long-term trend of fewer farms.

• Between 2007 and 2012, the amount of land in farms in the United States declined from 922 million acres to 915 million acres. This decline of less than one percent was the third smallest decline between Censuses since 1950.

• In 2012, the average farm size was 434 acres. This was a 3.8 percent increase over 2007, when the average farm was 418 acres.

• Middle-sized farms declined in number between 2007 and 2012. The number of large (1,000 plus acres) and very small (1 to 9 acres) farms did not change significantly in that time.

The full report can be found here.

As a review of all items to the county level is continuing, the data in the preliminary report is subject to change when final census results are released. A final report is scheduled for release in May 2014; an announcement will be made on USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service’s website and the census website.

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