Agricultural Statistics - 2007 Census of Agriculture Released February 4
USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released the 2007 Census of Agriculture recently. The census is the most comprehensive source of county and state agricultural information nationwide, and is conducted every 5 years. Information on farm size and type, along with demographic detail of farm operations highlight the census. The 2007 survey was the first census to attempt to extensively count very small family farms. This includes limited resource farms, retirement farms, and residential/lifestyle farms. As a result of the efforts to more accurately count minority and limited resource farms, the 2007 census farm counts are not directly comparable to earlier years. NASS also incorporated this change with the annual farm numbers estimates released February 12. However, even with the additional efforts to find the smallest farms, the North Carolina total farm count continues to decline.
North Carolina Highlights:
- Total farm numbers in 2007, including small and limited resource farms, was 52,900, compared with 53,900 counted in the 2002 census. A further decline was seen in the 2008 annual Farm Numbers report, showing about 52,500 farms.
- Land in farms totaled 8.5 million acres in 2007, down 7%, or about 600,000 acres, since 2002. This is equivalent to losing all of Sampson County, the 2nd largest county in terms of land area in the State.
- Farms with sales between $1,000 and $1,000,000 totaled about 34,000, down 12%, and accounted for 65% of all farms, or 26% of total sales.
- Farms with sales over $1,000,000 totaled about 2,800, compared with 1,500 in 2002. These farms represent 5% of the total farm count and 74% of total sales.
- Farms with sales of less than $1,000, including many of the very small limited resource, retirement, and residential/lifestyle farms totaled 15,900, compared with 13,500 in 2002. This size group accounts for 30% of all farms but less than 1% of total sales.
- There were fewer farms growing field crops in 2007 compared with 2002. Tobacco farms are down nearly 70% and totaled just over 2,600, compared with nearly 8,000 in 2002. Cotton farms dropped nearly 40% totaling about 1,300, compared with 2,100 in 2002.
- The number of cattle and broiler farms also declined, while small hog farms and places with backyard chickens were higher.
- The average age of principal farm operators in North Carolina is 57, compared with 56 in 2002.
- Women now account for 13% of all farm operators, up 3% from 2002.
- Family farms account for 97% of all farms. About 85% are classified as small family farms.
Complete census results are available at http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/
February 26, 2009