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USDA Releases Updated Ag Census Figures
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 05/05/2014

New census figures show that Wisconsin was home to nearly 70,000 farms during 2012. The final results of the latest Census of Agriculture were released Friday by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The report shows that while the total number of farms decreased over the last five years, the number of oilseed and grain operations were up by 46-percent since 2007. The number of sheep and goat farms also increased slightly.

"The 2012 Census of Agriculture enumerates the trends that have taken place on Wisconsin's farms in the last five years," said State Agriculture Secretary Ben Brancel. "The type, size and production of the state's farms continue to change, incorporating new technologies and methodologies to be profitable and meet consumer demand."

Specifically, the report showed that there was a decrease in the number of small farms that had last than 50 acres, but they still accounted for nearly a third of all farms in the state. Farms with more than 1,000 acres accounted for only three-percent of producing operations.

The market value of Wisconsin agricultural products was $12 billion in the 2012 census, a 30-percent increase from $9.2 billion in 2007. This includes Wisconsin market value of crops, livestock, poultry and their products, including dairy and government payments. The amount of net cash income of Wisconsin's farms continues to increase.

There are about 14.5 million acres of land in farms in Wisconsin. In the five years between the reports, the biggest decrease in farmland came in woodland acres that were sold and separated from the farm. Florence and Vilas counties had the largest decrease in land in farms statewide among counties.

And while the average age for a principal operator in Wisconsin is 56 years of age, the average age of the second operator is younger at 52 years and the third operator is 44 years. Nine percent of Wisconsin farm operators are age 34 years or younger.

Meanwhile, the 2012 Census of Agriculture included new data such as internet access and renewable energy. Seventy percent of Wisconsin farms had Internet access in 2012. More than 1,500 Wisconsin farms had renewable energy producing systems, including solar panels, geoexchange systems and wind turbines.

The Census of Agriculture is conducted every five years. DATCP estimates that about 84-percent of Wisconsin farmers responded to the census.

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