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What's up on the farm?

By Will Snell from April 2014 Issue

What's up on the farm?

The USDA released a portion of the national and state 2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture data in February, with the remaining data due in May. Preliminary data reveals:

Kentucky
• The number of farms in Kentucky totaled 77,064, down nearly 10 percent from the 85,260 farms reported in the 2007 Census of Agriculture.

• Kentucky's ranking fell from 4th to 6th in terms of the largest number of farms among U.S. states.

• The average Kentucky farm was 169 acres in 2012 compared to 164 acres in 2007.

• The only farm size category to increase from the last census was the number of farms totaling more than 1,000 acres, which totaled 1,928 Kentucky farms in 2012 compared to 1,745 farms in 2007.

• The average market value of crops and livestock sold by Kentucky farms was $65,755 in 2012, up 16 percent compared to 2007.

• 86 percent of Kentucky farms had less than $50,000 of sales in 2012, with 1,837 farms having sales exceeding $1,000,000.

• The average age of the principal operator for Kentucky farms was 57.6 years, with only the 65 and older categories increasing.

• The number of female operators totaled 8,100 compared to 9,110 in 2007.

• The number of beginning farmers (less than 10 years of farming) totaled 17,257, down 24 percent since 2007.

United States
• The number of U.S. farms (still defined as $1,000 or more of sales) totals 2.1 million, down 4.3 percent from the 2007 Census of Agriculture.

•  The average U.S. farm size increased from 418 acres in 2007 to 434 acres in 2012.

• The average U.S. farm market value of U.S. crops and livestock sold was up nearly 40 percent compared to 2007.

•  The average age of the U.S. farmer was 58.3 years, up 1.2 years since 2007.

•  The number of beginning farmers (less than 10 years of farming) was down almost 20 percent since the 2007 Census.

—Will Snell, University of Kentucky Department of Agricultural Economics Economic & Policy Update, February 26, 2014