This week USDA released the 2017 Census of Agriculture. As part of a comprehensive effort to mine the data for our readers, editors from across the board weighed in on the census data, creating an easy to read, yet thorough snapshot of the more than 6 million data points included in the survey.
The census found that the number of farms continues to decrease while the average age of farmers decrease. These stories paint a picture of the number of farms and the farm economy:
2017 Ag Census: Total Number Of U.S. Farms Declines 3%
Big, Small or Bust: The Hollowing Out of Mid-Sized U.S. Farms
2017 Ag Census: Demographic, Acre and Production Trends
High Corn Yields, Market Volatility Spell Lower Profits
The census also identified more female farmers as decision makers and highlighted an increase in minority farmers. These stories walk through demographic highlights of the survey:
2017 Ag Census: Who Is Running the Farm?
Farming Gets Injection of Middle-Aged Startup Farmers
While the census confirmed dairy consolidation is happening at an alarming rate, this census was the first to show an increase in the number of U.S. hog farms since 1935. Similarly, the number and size of beef operation climbed higher. Read these stories to drill down on specific segments of the livestock industry:
Census Roundup: Dairy Consolidates, Beef and Pig Operations Grow
Bigger Herds, More Beef Operations, Census Says
Larger Feedlots Increase, Smaller Lots Decline, Census Says
Census Confirms Sharp Spike in Dairy Consolidation
U.S. Hog Farms Increase For First Time Since 1935
As per usual, methodology continues to come up in farmer conversations regarding the census. If you’re interested in how the data is collected and missing data is accounted for, the stories below help explain the process. Additionally, you can listen to Joe Parsons, USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) board chairman, discuss the census and the key points that stuck out to NASS data analysts.
Is The Census of Agriculture Accurate?
AgriTalk: Highlights of USDA Census