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USDA announces Ag Census results
April 26, 2019

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Agriculture is an enormous, diverse part of the U.S. economy. Every five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service conducts a Census of Agriculture to develop a detailed compilation of facts and figures regarding the nation's farms and ranches. This crucial, much-anticipated Census is a uniform, comprehensive source of agricultural data for every county in the nation.

On April 11, the USDA announced the findings of the most recent census. Conducted in 2017, it provides a vital overview of American agriculture. The census is a comprehensive look at production practices, land use, land ownership and much, much more. This comprehensive compendium of information will influence planning decisions about the future of agriculture. It also documents the huge role rural agriculture plays in building a strong, vibrant U.S. economy.

"We can all use the census to tell the tremendous story of U.S. agriculture and how it is changing," said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, upon announcing the latest census. "As a data-driven organization, we are eager to dig in to this wealth of information to advance our goals of supporting farmers and ranchers, facilitating rural prosperity, and strengthening stewardship of private lands efficiently, effectively, and with integrity."

The census documents the continued and growing significance of Iowa in the nation's agricultural economy. Overall in 2017, American farms and ranches produced $388.5 billion in agricultural sales. That was down very slightly from the $394.6 billion documented in the previous census, conducted in 2012. Our state continued to be a stellar performer. At $29.0 billion, the Hawkeye State placed second in the nation in 2017 in terms of value of the agricultural sales. We trailed only California's $45.2.

Here are some of the findings of the 2017 Census of Agriculture:

- In the U.S., there are 2.04 million farms and ranches (down 3.2 percent from 2012) with an average size of 441 acres (up 1.6 percent) on 900 million acres (down 1.6 percent).

- Just 105,453 farms produced 75 percent of all sales in 2017.

- Ninety-six percent of farms and ranches are family-owned.

- Farms with Internet access rose from 69.6 percent in 2012 to 75.4 percent in 2017.

- A total of 133,176 farms and ranches use renewable energy producing systems, more than double the 57,299 in 2012.

The census defines as an agricultural producer anyone involved in making decisions for a farm. According to the latest census there were 3.4 million producers in 2017, up 6.9 percent from 2012. The number of female producers increased nearly 26.6 percent from 2012. In 2017, 56 percent of farms reported more than one producer. That was in important change from 2012 when 54 percent had a sole producer.

Farm New welcomes this massive update on information about agriculture.

We congratulate the USDA on a job well done. We urge readers to explore the extensive online resources about the census the USDA has made available at www.nass.usda.gov/AgCensus.

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