The Van Trump Report

Census of Agriculture Shows Continuing Decline in Farms and Acreage

Results from USDA’s highly anticipated “2022 Census of Agriculture” show the trends of fewer farms and farmland, aging farmers, and climbing expenses remain intact.  In 2022, a little over 3.37 million producers operated 1.90 million farms covering 880.1 million acres. That compares to just under 3.40 million producers on 2.04 million farms and more than 900 million acres in 2017.

Not surprisingly, many industry groups are expressing concerns about the latest data. The American Farm Bureau Federation highlights the continued and significant decline of farms and farm acres. “The latest census numbers put in black and white the warnings our members have been expressing for years. Increased regulations, rising supply costs, lack of available labor, and weather disasters have all squeezed farmers to the point that many of them find it impossible to remain economically sustainable,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall.  

Another cause for concern is the “graying” of American farmers and ranchers. While the average age of farmers in 2022 only climbed by six months to 58.1 years from 57.5 in 2017, the average is up from 55.3 years over the last two decades. This average has been more than 50 years of age since at least the 1974 Census of Agriculture and has increased in each census since 1978. In addition, the percentage of principal farm operators 65 or older has risen consistently since 1978 (when it was about 1 in 6) and now stands at more than 38% after climbing +12% since 2017.  

For those not familiar, the USDA conducts the Census of Agriculture every five years. Covering over 6 million data points, it is the most comprehensive overview of the US agricultural sector. The full 2022 Census of Agriculture is available HERE. The below graphic includes other highlights:

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