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Ag Census Numbers Show Changes in State Agriculture
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 04/12/2019

The total number of farms in Wisconsin during 2017, as well as the amount of acres being farmed, were both down compared to five years earlier. The USDA released its preliminary results of the Census of Agriculture on Thursday. The report shows that the Dairy State had 64,793 farms in operation in 2017--compared to 69,754 in 2012.

Wisconsin had 14.31 million acres of farmland in production that year, which is about two percent less than five years earlier. But the average number of acres per farm went up by 12 at 221.

The census shows the largest farms in Wisconsin were the only segment growing in size. In 2017, there were 22,254 farms that ran between 50 to 179 acres--compared to 25,502 farms in 2012. 'Mid-sized' operations, which are those running between 180-499 acres, were also down by 1,511 from the previous census. But there were 295 more farms in the report with 500-999 acres, while farms with 1,000 or more acres totaled 2,340. That's 89 more than a half-decade earlier.

The age of the average Wisconsin farm operator has varied, according to the census. Only eight-percent of all farmers in the state were under the age of 34. About 13-percent were ages 35-44; 22-percent were 45-54; 38-percent were 55-64; 14-percent were 65-74; and nine-percent were older than 75 years of age.

About 35 percent of all Wisconsin farm operators were women. And over 1,300 producers were minorities, such as Hispanic, American Indians, Asians or Blacks.

"The census data demonstrates what many of us have long known: Wisconsin agriculture is broad, diverse, and strong," said State Agriculture Secretary Brad Pfaff. "Each farm enterprise is unique, and our state still provides opportunities for operations of all types and sizes."

Officials at the USDA say the 2017 census was the most comprehensive effort to date to reach all agriculture operations, regardless of size.

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