Highlights from the 2012 US Ag Census

Census highlightsThe USDA National Agriculture Statistic Service (NASS) released the first preliminary report from the 2012 Census of Agriculture. When the 2007 report first came out the big news was that the number of farms in the US had actually increased. That trend did not continue and the number of farms in the US dropped from 2.2 million in 2007 back down to 2.1 million in 2012. Not only did the total number of farms drop, but the total acres of US farm land also declined from 922 million acres in 2007 to 915 million in 2012. Interestingly the average farm size in the US increased from 418 acres in 2007 to 434 acres in 2012.

2012 Number of farmsThis trend for the total US was not the case in Florida, however. Florida was one of only 10 states where both the number of farms and the total acreage of farmland increased over the past five years. In 2007, there were 47,463 farms with 9.2 million acres in Florida. In 2012, there was a slight increase of with 47,740 farms with 9.5 million acres. The average Florida farm size also increased slightly from 195 acres in 2007 to 200 acres in 2012.

Farm land changesThe greatest concern from the preliminary report was the change in the age of farmers over the past five years. The following chart shows graphically the decrease in the next generation of farmers. The number of Farm operators ages 35-55 years old declined from 2007 to 2012, although there was a slight increase in the 25-35 category. The number of farm operators over the traditional retirement age of 65 continues to increase. The average age of farmers in 2012 was 58 years old, continuing a 30 year trend of increasing age. Also the number of beginning farmers, or people farming for fewer than 10 years declined 20% from 2007. The number of farmers who said farming was their primary occupation also dropped 9% over the past five years. Although many programs have been implemented to try to assist the next generation of farmers, the statistics show that this remains a real challenge for American Agriculture.

Age of operatorsThe 2012 Ag Census did show that farm sales have continue to increase. In 2012, US Farms sold nearly $395 million worth of agricultural products, up 33% from 2007. For the first time since 1974, crop sales exceeded livestock sales with a 48% improvement over 2007, while livestock sales were only 19% higher than five years ago. Individual farm sales averaged $187,000 in 2012, more than $52,000 or a 39% improvement over 2007.

2012 Value of products soldMore details of the 2012 Census of Agriculture will be released by USDA NASS in the coming months. Detailed state and county data will be released in May. To view the preliminary highlight summary, download:

2012 Ag Census Highlights

To access the full 128 page preliminary report, and additional Ag Census information, go to:




Posted: February 28, 2014

Category: Agriculture
Tags: 2012 Ag Census, Ag History, General Agriculture, Panhandle Agriculture

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