USDA releases first data from 2012 Census of Agriculture
Last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture released the initial findings of its 2012 Census of Agriculture. Here are some of the findings.
1. Illinois ranked third among the 50 states in terms of crop sales, behind California and Iowa. Illinois crops were valued at $14.1 billion, up 30 percent from the 2007 census.
2. Illinois didn't rank in the top 10 states for livestock sales, with Texas, Iowa and California claiming the top spots in 2012. Even so, Illinois livestock sales amounted to a tad over $3 billion, up 24 percent from 2007.
3. Altogether, Illinois ranked seventh among the states in total agricultural production, at $17.2 billion. The top six were California, Iowa, Texas, Nebraska, Minnesota and Kansas.
4. Government payments to Illinois farmers paled in comparison to the market value of products they raised. The $553.3 million in government payments was equal to about 3.2 percent of the value of the state's agricultural production.
5. It's probably no surprise that 99.4 percent of Illinois farmers were white. But the number of Illinois farmers who identified themselves as being of Spanish, Hispanic or Latino origin increased 46 percent since the 2007 census.
6. There were 110 black Illinois farmers, up from 98 five years earlier. The number of Asian farmers in Illinois increased from 90 to 94. But the number of Illinois farmers identifying themselves as American Indian or Pacific Islander dropped.
7. The average size of an Illinois farm was 359 acres, up 11 acres from the 2007 census. But the median size — where half the farms were larger and half the size were smaller — was 100 acres.
8. Roughly 10 percent of Illinois farms were 1,000 acres or more. Another 10 percent were between 500 and 999 acres.
So 80 percent of Illinois farms — defined as any place where $1,000 of agricultural products were produced or sold — were smaller than 500 acres.
Here's how they broke down:
— 180 to 499 acres, 18 percent.
— 50 to 179 acres, 28 percent.
— 10 to 49 acres, 26 percent.
— 1 to nine acres, 8 percent.
9. Nationally, total farm acreage decreased by 0.8 percent from 2007. But in Illinois — unlike surrounding states — total farm acreage increased slightly. The only state where there was a "significant increase" in total farm acreage was Virginia.
10. About half the farm operators in Illinois said farming was their principal occupation; the other half listed something else.
The number citing farming as their principal occupation was up from 2007; the number citing another occupation was down.
11. Nearly 59 percent of the 75,087 farm operators in Illinois had sales of less than $50,000. Nineteen percent had sales between $50,000 and $250,000; 16 percent had sales between $250,000 and $1 million; and 6 percent had sales of $1 million or more.
12. The number of female farm operators in Illinois dropped 10 percent from 2007 to 2012. About 9 percent of Illinois farm operators are women.
13. Illinois farmers — like farmers nationwide — tend to be on the older side. Fully 60 percent of the principal farm operators in Illinois are 55 or older. Nearly 31 percent of Illinois farmers are 65 or older, and 12 percent are 75 or older.
Collectively, they're getting older — and apparently not ready to be put out to pasture. In the 2007 census, 55 percent were 55 or older; 28 percent were 65 or older; and 10 percent were 75 and older.