2007 Ag Census Shows Increase in Diversity, Number of Small Farms

      Posted On: February 11, 2009

The number of farms in the United States has grown 4 percent and the operators of those farms have become more diverse in the past five years, according to results of the 2007 Census of Agriculture released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The 2007 Census counted 2,204,792 farms in the United States, a net increase of 75,810 farms. Nearly 300,000 new farms have begun operation since the last census in 2002. Compared to all farms nationwide, these new farms tend to have more diversified production, fewer acres, lower sales and younger operators who also work off-farm. In the past five years, U.S. farm operators have become more demographically diverse.

Direct food sales sold by farmers directly to household consumers rose 49% to $1.2 billion in 2007 from $812 million in 2002. Once adjusted for inflation, the increase is slightly lower, 30%.  In the Northeast states, the percentage of total agricultural sales made directly to consumers was more than 3%, while in the Southwest it was as low as .18%.  The national average is .41%. The number of direct marketing farms increased 17%, from 116,733 (in 2002) to 136, 817, though the average per farm direct sales of these farms was less than $9,000 per year.

The 2007 Census counted nearly 30 percent more women as principal farm operators. The count of Hispanic operators grew by 10 percent, and the counts of American Indian, Asian and Black farm operators increased as well.

While the number of small farms increased, there continues to be a loss of mid-sized family farms, and the number of acres in agricultural production has declined.

Learn more about the 2007 Agricultural Census here.