Ag Census: Growing Diversity in U.S. Farming

Census of Agriculture Shows Growing Diversity in U.S. Farming

The USDA press release issued this month claims that farms are becoming more diverse:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 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 today 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. 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.

The latest census figures show a continuation in the trend towards more small and very large farms and fewer mid-sized operations. Between 2002 and 2007, the number of farms with sales of less than $2,500 increased by 74,000. The number of farms with sales of more than $500,000 grew by 46,000 during the same period.

The 2007 Census found that 57 percent of all farmers have internet access, up from 50 percent in 2002. For the first time in 2007, the census also looked at high-speed Internet access. Of those producers accessing the Internet, 58 percent reported having a high-speed connection.

Census results are available online at www.agcensus.usda.gov .

The press release claims that the number of black farm operators has increased. At the same time, not all farmers who filed for claims in the Pigford caase have received their awards. The 1999 Class Action Lawsuit Settlement Pigford v. Glickman, was to award 20,000 Black farmers $2.5 billion in damages for loan discrimination practiced committed by the federal government.

The Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association is a non-profit organization “created to respond to the issues and concerns of Black farmers in the U.S. and abroad. They “are committed to securing justice for small farmers and combating environmental injustice facing rural people around the world.”

BFAA was also organized to monitor the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the settlement in the Pigford case.

They are hold the National Black Land Loss Summit this month. More information about the summit.

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