Industry reacts to Census of Agriculture data

Industry reacts to Census of Agriculture data
Feb 21, 2024

The census results should be a wakeup call, the New York Farm Bureau says

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Some ag industry members are sounding the alarm following the USDA’s release of the 2022 Census of Agriculture.

Overall, the census counted 141,733 fewer U.S. farms in 2022 than it did in 2017. The questionnaire also found more than 20 million acres that were used for ag production in 2017 are no longer in use.

That land loss is comparable to removing an area of land the size of South Carolina.

Given these numbers, and how census data differs between states, organizations like the New York Farm Bureau are calling on the U.S. ag sector to pay attention to what’s happening in American ag.

“The numbers do not come as a surprise but should be a renewed wakeup call for the state,” David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau president, said in a statement.

Production costs in New York are up.

Labor costs, for example, saw a 41 percent increase.

More needs to be done to ensure the vitality of the industry, which supports everyone, Fisher said.

The loss of farmland and food production has major impacts on the economy and quality of life for all New Yorkers. We must work together to reverse this trend, include passing a strong farm bill that supports New York's diverse agriculture.”

Virginia has also experienced a decrease in its number of farms and number of acres in production.

Since 2017, the commonwealth lost about 4,000 farms and almost 500,000 acres of land.

This trend means farming in Virginia will become more expensive.

“It becomes more and more difficult to purchase or rent farmland where the remaining producers can continue to produce their crops and raise their livestock,” Tony Banks, senior assistant director with the Virginia Farm Bureau, told WHSV.

Some officials are highlighting the benefits that came out of the census.

In North Carolina, for example, the number of industry newcomers is up.

“A highpoint for me in the data was the number of new and beginning producers (people with 10 or fewer years of experience) was up 13 percent from 2017,” Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler told SFN. “We have just shy of 23,000 new and beginning producers in agriculture.”

But a focus is also required on farmland conservation.

The American Farmland Trust ranks North Carolina second in the country for projected land loss by 2040.

“If we lose over a million of our 8.1 million acres of farm and forestland as is projected by 2040, it will significantly change the complexion of our state,” Troxler said.

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