Agriculture makes fall festivities possible
Ever wondered how many farmers are in your county? How much land is designated as farmland? How many cows moo near you?
The U.S. Census of Agriculture, which is taken once every five years, is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Even small plots of land—whether rural or urban—used to produce fruit, vegetables or some food animals count as farms if $1,000 or more of such products were raised and sold, or would have been sold, during the census year.
The census also looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures.
Census findings, which were collected in early 2018 and released in April, are available at nass.usda.gov/AgCensus.
Census highlights for Virginia:
- In 2017 the number of farms in Virginia totaled 43,225, which is down 6.1% from 46,030 farms in 2012.
- Land in farms totaled 7.8 million acres, down 6.1% from 8.3 million acres in 2012.
- There was no change in the average size of a farm in Virginia—it remained 180 acres.
- The market value of Virginia agriculture products sold was $3.96 billion, up 6% from $3.75 billion in 2012.
- The average value of agriculture products sold per farm was $91,625, compared to $81,540 in 2012.
Virginia farmer demographics
- The number of women farmers was up 18% from 2012, totaling 25,509.
- Farmers’ average age continues to increase—from 57.2 in 2012 to 58.5 in 2017.
- Farmers 35 and younger make up 8.5% of all producers; the 2017 census identified 5,996.
- Thirteen percent of all farmers have served in the military, totaling 9,217.
- New and beginning farmers—those with 10 years or less on any farm—totaled 18,957 or 27% of all producers.
Did you know?
The first Census of Agriculture was conducted in 1840 in conjunction with the decennial Census. Today the National Agricultural Statistics Service sends questionnaires to nearly 3 million potential U.S. farms and ranches.
Participants can return completed questionnaires by mail or complete them online
On Real Virginia
Real Virginia, Virginia Farm Bureau’s weekly television program, also recently examined 2017 Census of Agriculture Findings. Learn more at bit.ly/rv19census.