According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s recently released 2012 ag census, the number of farms in Georgia is fewer, but the operations that remain are big and booming.
The census, taken every 5 years, is released to shed light on the state of American agriculture. Tracking the number of farmers, farmer demographics, farms, farmland, and value of ag products, this government conducted survey provides a revealing agricultural snapshot.
The preliminary findings suggest that American agriculture, as a whole, has experienced a promising boom, with market values of crops, livestock and total ag products reaching record highs despite the shrinking number of farms and farmers. Though the national trend shows that business is booming (for larger farms), fewer actual farmers (owning mid-sized farms) are remaining in business. Georgia follows this trend.
Farms in Georgia bring in $70 billion to the state’s economy. Top commodities include broiler chickens, peanuts, cotton and eggs. The market value for crops, livestock and poultry all increased greatly from 2007-2012. In fact, Georgia farms saw an almost 50 percent increase in average market value since 2007.
Though Georgia farms decreased in number by 12 percent, the average acreage of a farm — 228, about half the national average — increased by 8 percent. The mean acreage — 70 acres — also increased.
Other Georgia Ag Census Preliminary Data:
- 6,400 female-owned farms operate in Georgia, down 15 percent;
- The average farmer age is 60, 2 years older than in 2007;
- More Hispanics and less African Americans are farming for a living;
- Approx. 500,000 acres in Georgia were taken out of agricultural production since 2007.
Overall, the findings look fortunate for large-sized farms, but unlucky for mid-sized ag operations.
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