American agriculture has experienced a boom, with market values of crops, livestock and total agricultural products reaching record highs even as the amount of U.S. farmland declined.
A new government survey says the number of U.S. farms dropped to 2.1 million in 2012, about a 4 percent drop from five years earlier. But some of the bigger farms got bigger. The average farm grew from 418 to 434 acres.
The survey, taken every five years and released Thursday, shows some growth in nontraditional elements of agriculture. While the industry is still overwhelmingly white, there's a rise in the number of minority-operated farms.
And there are more farms in New England and many states in the Mountain West while that number has declined in many states in traditional farm country.
The number of farms in Nebraska has increased, opposite the national trend which shows farm numbers declining more than 4 percent from 2007 to 2012. Nebraska saw the number of farms increase 4.7 percent to 49,969 in that time period. The report says the average size of a Nebraska farm fell to 907 acres from 953 acres. Land farmed in Nebraska fell about 148,000 acres to 45.3 million. The market value of agricultural products sold surged nearly 49 percent to just over $23 billion. The average age of a farmer remains 55.
The number of farms in Iowa has fallen, but the total land farmed in the state has remained stable. The number of Iowa farms fell 4.5 percent to 88,631 in 2012 from 92,856 in 2007. The average size of a farm grew to 345 acres from 331 acres. Land farmed in the state declined by just over 130,000 acres to 30.6 million acres. The value of Iowa's agricultural products rose 50 percent to $30.81 billion from $20.41 billion in 2007.
The average age of an Iowa farmer increased to 57 from 56.