Farm groups analyze Census of Agriculture data

A range of farm groups have presented their initial analyses of the 2017 Census of Agriculture that was released last week.

The American Farm Bureau Federation analyzed the large-scale numbers and pointed out that the response rate was 71.8 percent, very high for any survey.

The National Farmers Union noted that the new census is a more complete picture of American agriculture because it includes more types of operators.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition said that the census showed “increased consolidation and economic concentration, declines in the number of farms, land being farmed, and farm income have occurred since 2012,” but also that “the number of beginning farmers, organic farms, and local food sales continue to climb — a bright spot in an otherwise bleak farming outlook marked by continued shrinking of the ‘ag of the middle’ and decreased farm profitability.”

The Federation of South Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, which works with black farmers, noted that the number of acres farmed by African Americans had risen from 3.6 million acres in 2012 to 3.9 million acres in 2017 but that “it doesn’t translate into profitability and increased land ownership.”

Texas has the highest recorded farming acreage in both 2012 and 2017, while Mississippi is the state with the second highest recorded farmed acreage in 2017, the group said.

The Washington Post noted that the census found farmers are planting “less of the classics such as corn, potatoes, green beans and peas. In their place, new vegetables such as sweet potatoes and leafy greens are defining American farms.”

–The Hagstrom Report