Ag Census shows Idaho added farms

The latest Census of Agriculture shows that Idaho bucked a national trend by adding farms and ranches between 2012 and 2017.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture report, which includes data through 2017 but was just released on Friday, concludes Idaho had 25,000 farms, or about 184 more than five years prior. Most of those, however, were classified as “very small” and were no larger than 49 acres.

Nationwide, the census concluded the nation lost 3.2 percent of its farms and ranches from 2012, with 2.04 million operations remaining. Still, the average size of a U.S. agricultural operation increased by 1.6 percent to 441 acres. About 75 percent of sales came from 105,450 of those operations, down 14,000 from 2012. The average U.S. producer was 57 years old.

The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation emphasized that the Census of Agriculture shows large producers are still carrying most of the economic weight in agriculture, despite the proliferation of the smallest farms. The report showed farms and ranches with at least 2,000 acres accounted for nearly 59 percent of all farm revenue in Idaho in 2017. The smallest farms and ranches, by contrast, represented only 1/10-of-1 percent percent of the state’s revenue.

Meanwhile, the state’s total acreage in farm land dropped during the five-year period, from 11.8 million acres to 11.7 million. Gem State cash receipts fell from $7.8 billion to $7.57 billion, while expenses rose slightly to $6.65 billion in 2017, mostly due to labor costs. (Idaho State Journal)