« Agriculture

Agriculture by the Numbers

by Mike Austin

Every 5 years the National Ag Statistic Service releases the findings of the latest ag census report. This time the result are from 2012 and shows us that farm numbers are smaller and the average age of producers is getting older. It also shows that 87% of all U.S. farms are operated by families or individuals. The census shows that we still have nearly 70,000 farms in Wisconsin... covering around 14.5 million acres, and the size of those operations are getting bigger, The report showed that the market value of Wisconsin agricultural products topped $12 billion dollars...a 30% increase from the previous census.

As for the age of our farmers...that is increasing both here in the state and nationally. Here in Wisconsin the average age is two years below the national average at 56. The Census also showed an increase in younger farmers under the age of 35, which is encouraging. It also showed a rise in organic operations although they still make up a small percentage of our total farm population. In 2012, the year of this census, U.S. producers sold more than 394 billion dollars worth of agricultural products. Although it cost them more than 328 billion dollars to produce them.

The census report is used as a barometer to show where agriculture is...what's staying the same, what changes need to be made, and what can be done differently. One of the key elements to glean out of the 2012 census is the fact that agriculture continues to be a strong economic engine on both the state and national level.