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2012 Census of Agriculture Highlights

Number of Farms in US declines, but not in New England

Concord, NH - The number of farms in the US totaled to 2.1 million farms in 2012, a decrease of 4 percent from 2007, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) in the 2012 Census of Agriculture Preliminary Report. "Nationally, the number of farms may have declined however, across the New England States, the number of farms actually increased 5 percent from 2007, up to 34,878 farms", according to Gary Keough, USDA NASS State Statistician for the New England States.

This preliminary report contains just a fraction of information that will be available in the full report. The preliminary report contains US and State level number of farms, total land in farms, total market value of crops and livestock farms by size as well as demographic information like the average age, number of principal farm operators by age group and years on their current farm, number of men and women principal farm operators, as well as number of farmers by race and ethnicity. "The preliminary report tells us what some of the overall trends are but we have to wait for the full report to identify some of the factors influencing the trends", says Keough. "For example, the total land in New England farms increased 4 percent to 4.211 million acres. This is the continuation of a trend that started around 2002. But land in farms includes crop land, pastureland, woodland, and other land that can include streams, ponds, wetlands, and land in buildings. In some States, it also includes coastal areas used for producing shellfish and farm raised fish. We won't know which of these factors are influencing the trend until the full report comes out."

UPDATE: Full Report released May 2, 2014

Other New England highlights include:

  • The number of beginning farmers, those with less than 10 years experience on their current farm, increased in New England but decrease at the US level. "While the nationally the numbers declined 19.6 percent from 2007, in New England the number of beginning farmers increased by 401 farmers. Those with less than 5 years experience increased by 549 but we also found a decrease of 148 with for those between 5 and 9 years." added Keough.
  • The average age of New England farmers was 57.6 years, up from 56.5 years in 2007.
  • The number farms with women principal operator increased to 9,695, up 15 percent. The percent of farms with women principal operators was 28 percent, up from 25 percent in 2007.
  • Farms with sales of $1 million or more, at 507, increase 16 percent. Farms with $250,000 to $999,999 in sales decrease 2 percent. Farms with $50,000 and $249,000 in sales increased 4 percent and farms with less than $50,000 in sales increased 6 percent.

Rhode Island Highlights:

  • Number of farms. The number of farms, at 1,243, is up 2% from 2007. Land in farms, at 69,589 acres, is up 3 percent from 2007. The average farm size was 56 acres and the median farm size was 24 acres.
  • Farms by size. The number of farms with less than 9 acres increased and accounted for 35 percent of all farms. The number of farms with between 10 and 49 acres and between 50 and 179 acres decreased. The number of farms with 180 acres or more increased.
  • Market value of sales. Total Market value of sales declined 9 percent from 2007. Crop sales declined 12 percent while livestock sales increased 4 percent.
  • Farms by economic class. The distribution of farms by economic class changed slightly from 2007. The number of farms with between $50,000 and $249,000 was the only group that showed an increase, up 38 farms or 32 percent from 2007.
  • Average Age. Average age of the principal operator was 56.7 years compared to 56.3 years in 2007.
  • Age group. The number of farmers between 35 and 44 declined as did those over 75. Other age groups increased.
  • Beginning farmers. Beginning farmers are estimated to have made up over 31 percent of all principal farm operators compared to 25 percent in 2007. The number of farmers with more than 10 years on the present farm decreased 6 percent.
  • Women Farmers. Women principal farm operators accounted for 25% of the principal farm operators, up from 24 percent in 2007.



Rev. 3/21/17