There are now 3.2 million farmers operating 2.1 million farms on 914.5 million acres of farmland across the United States, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
USDA reports record sales moderated by rising expenses; agriculture is increasingly diverse; farming and mMarketing practices are changing.
Some of the key findings include:
- Both sales and production expenses reached record highs in 2012. U.S. producers sold $394.6 billion worth of agricultural products, but it cost them $328.9 billion to produce these products.
- Three quarters of all farms had sales of less than $50,000, producing only 3 percent of the total value of farm products sold while those with sales of more than $1 million – 4 percent of all farms – produced 66 percent.
- The top 5 states for agricultural sales were California ($42.6 billion); Iowa ($30.8 billion); Texas ($25.4 billion); Nebraska ($23.1 billion); and Minnesota ($21.3 billion).
- Eighty-seven percent of all U.S. farms are operated by families or individuals.
- Principal operators were on average 58.3 years old and were predominantly male; second operators were slightly younger and most likely to be female; and third operators were younger still.
- Organic sales were growing, but accounted for just 0.8 percent of the total value of U.S. agricultural production. Organic farmers reported $3.12 billion in sales in 2012, up from $1.7 billion in 2007.
- 57,299 farms produced on-farm renewable energy, more than double the 23,451 in 2007.
- The largest category of operations was beef cattle with 619,172 or 29 percent of all farms and ranches in 2012 specializing in cattle.
Friday May 2, 2014/ USDA/ United States.