Release Date: 02/20/2014
Annapolis, MD, February 20, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture today released its first look at the Census of Agriculture showing that in Maryland, since the last Census was conducted in 2007, there are 578 or 4.5 percent fewer farms, average farm size increased to 166 acres up from 160, and 18.7 percent or 80 more female principal farm operators. From an economic standpoint, the value of agricultural products sold increased 24 percent to $2.27 billion, with an average per farm increase of 30 percent to $185,329. The latest figures indicate that the rate of farmland loss is slowing in Maryland. There was a 1.0 percent (21,011 acre) loss in 2012 compared to a 1.3 percent (25,874 acre) loss in 2007 and 5.5 percent (115,433 acre) loss in 2002. USDA will release the full Census results with much more information, including data to the county level, in May.
“I thank our farmers for participating in the Census and providing valuable input about their operations. The data also impacts funding for critical programs that support agriculture,” said Maryland Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance. “Agriculture is resilient and a critical part of our state’s economy, quality of life, environment and food supply, and one that we are committed to strengthening. We look forward to seeing the complete Census data this May to get the full picture of Maryland agriculture and how it has changed during the past five years.”
“The Census of Agriculture is important because it is the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation,” said Dale Hawks, director of the NASS Maryland Field Office. “Through the Census, producers can show the nation the value and importance of agriculture, and help influence the decisions that will shape the future of American agriculture for years to come. Census data are used by all those who serve farmers and rural communities – federal, state and local governments, agribusinesses, trade associations and many others.”
The 2012 Census of Agriculture also found that in Maryland:
• Value of crops, including nursery/greenhouse crop, increased 67 percent to $1.05 billion.
• Value of livestock, poultry and their products increased 1 percent to $1.2 billion.
• Government payments (including federal, state, local) received increased by 8 percent totaling $36 million.
• Nearly half (49 percent) of farms are less than 50 acres.
• Principal operators with Spanish, Hispanic or Latino origin are up 27 percent (25 people), and Asian operators are up 18 percent (15 people) from 2007.
• Only 48.9 percent of farm operators state that farming is their primary occupation.
• Average age of farmer is 59 years compared to 57.3 in 2007.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service surveyed all agricultural landowners during the first half of 2013 about their farm operations for calendar year 2012. A farm is defined as any place from which $1,000 of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year.
For further information about the Census of Agriculture in the nation and in Maryland, log onto www.agcensus.usda.gov.
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