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June 4, 2024

New State of American Agriculture Census Report | AgAmerica

New Report Provides a Deep Dive Analysis of The 2022 Ag Census to Help Guide The Future of Farm Financing.

Today marks the release of a brand new, interactive report on the State of American Agriculture—an analysis of the 2022 Census of Agriculture conducted by AgAmerica Economic Research Team. The 2022 Census of Agriculture holds insights that date back more than 100 years. This whitepaper examines the data to demystify several pivotal shifts on the agricultural horizon and discusses how industry leaders, lawmakers, and financial experts can better support farmers through this transformative time.

From this analysis of the 757-page Census report, AgAmerica uncovered five pivotal trends that will likely shape the future of the nation’s food supply and the financing they require.

1.    Farm Consolidation

We have less farms and farmland, but they’re getting bigger.

One big story that came from the USDA’s 2022 Census of Agriculture report was the notable and ongoing shift towards fewer, but larger farms.

  • For the first time since the ag census began, the total number of U.S. farms fell below two million in 2022 and total farmland acres dropped to 880 million.
  • Since 1997, the number of U.S. farms and farmland has fallen by 14 percent and eight percent, respectively.
  • During that same time, average farm size increased by seven percent to 463 in 2022.

In the report, AgAmerica discusses the challenges and opportunities within these farm consolidation trends.

2.    Farm Ownership

Most U.S. farms are still family-owned, but less than before.

Family farms are the backbone of American agriculture and always have been, but experts are noticing a subtle shift in ownership trends as each census goes by.

  • According to the 2022 ag census, family farms still dominate U.S. agriculture, capturing as much as 95 percent of the market.
  • However, we’ve witnessed a gradual decline in the percentage of family-owned farms. It’s a modest decline of one percent since 2017 and a two percent decline since 2012.
  • While 69 percent of family farms expect ownership to continue into the next generation, only 23 percent currently have a plan in place.

Succession remains one of the biggest obstacles to multigenerational farming. If we want to keep American farms in the family, we must equip them with resources to properly prepare for the transfer of ownership.

3.    Farmer Pipeline

Farmers are still getting older, but young farmer interest is on the rise.

The aging farmer is a hot topic among the farm community, but increasing interest from young farmers is a promising development from most recent ag census data.

  • The average age of producers crept up to just over 58 years old. This number has incrementally increased since 2002.
  • Farmers under 35 comprise nine percent of American farmers, a three percent increase from 2012.

Barriers holding young farmers back in the business include the liquidity required to grow and unattainable land costs.

4.    Demographic Diversity

Farmers are less diverse—but it depends on age and race.

With so many new voices entering the industry, it’s important to understand the scope of varying backgrounds, cultures, and experiences joining the table.

  • Total producers in 2022 changed very little from 2017, with a slight decline of less than one percent.
  • There was an eight percent decline in Black farmers, followed by a three percent decline for Indigenous farmers.
    • On the other hand, there were increases in Asian, Pacific Islander, and multi-racial producers, while the percentage of White and Hispanic producers remained relatively stable from 2017 to 2022. 
  • The slight decline in total female producers comes from the nearly 14 percent decline in female producers between the age of 45 and 64.
  • There was also a substantial decline of 18 percent of farmers who are military veterans.

How can agricultural finance ensure these farmers are equally supported in their agribusiness endeavors?

5.    Conservation And Innovation

More farmers are leveraging technology and conservation to increase revenue and efficiency.

It is estimated that global food production will need to increase as much as 70 percent to meet growing demand by 2050. To achieve this, more American farmers and ranchers are adopting technology and conservation farming practices to increase food production, reduce inputs, and expand revenue streams. 

  • As much as 79 percent of farms now have internet access, representing a four percent growth from 2017.
  • The 2022 ag census found a 15 percent increase in farms that are now leveraging renewable energy producing systems as an additional revenue stream.
  • The increase in renewable energy producing systems is largely driven by solar, which experienced a 30 percent growth from 2017 to 2022.

Supporting a Thriving Rural America

In The State of American Agriculture, AgAmerica lays the foundation of what’s currently happening in Rural America and opens the door to openly discuss what farmers need to succeed for the road ahead.

“Data from this census reiterates what many who are actively involved in the ag industry have been saying. Rural America is hollowing out, and it is in the best interest of every single one of us that we do something about it.”

 – Shelby Buchanan, Senior Content Manager at AgAmerica

If you would like to be a part of the conversation, click the button below to access the full interactive report.

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