JEFFERSON CITY – Last week, the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service published the latest Census of Agriculture. Missouri agriculture remains second in the number of farms in the United States with more than 95,000 farms on 27.8 million acres. The data showcases the state’s unique foothold in agriculture commodity diversity and ability to bring home the next generation of agriculture’s workforce.
“Missouri agriculture has shown incredible progress in producing some of the safest, most abundant food in the world, while maintaining our traditional values,” said Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn. “It’s important that we continue that progress by connecting every last mile to high-speed internet. I truly believe that’s the key to bringing home the next generation, creating greater on-farm efficiency and implementing the latest cutting-edge technology.”
While soybean, corn, cattle, poultry and hog production account for 88 percent of Missouri agricultural sales, specialty crops thrive in the Show Me State as well. Missouri is home several growing agricultural sectors like elderberries, honey production, mushrooms, sheep and goats, among others.
The average age of the Missouri farmer increased by one year to 59.4 years. However, farms specializing in the livestock sectors of hogs, dairy and poultry showed a significantly younger average age. Hog farms are made up of 25 percent young farmers, which is defined as 35 years or less. Data also showed that between 16-20% of producers on dairy, poultry, sheep and goat producers are young farmers.
“If you look back 20 years ago, it’s clear that we are more productive than we’ve ever been in Missouri,” said Bob Garino, Missouri USDA-NASS State Statistician. “Today, there is more corn, soybeans and rice acres harvested and beef cattle raised annually throughout Missouri on fewer operations.”
Connectivity in rural Missouri continues to be a priority of Governor Mike Parson, the Missouri Department of Agriculture and many agriculture groups. The Census data revealed that only 73 percent of farms have access to some form of internet. Missouri farms rely predominately on mobile, DSL and satellite connections to gather, analyze and use their agricultural data.
The Census of Agriculture is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Even small plots of land – whether rural or urban – growing fruit, vegetables or some food animals count if $1,000 or more of such products were raised and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the Census year. The Census of Agriculture, taken only once every five years, looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures. For America’s farmers and ranchers, the Census of Agriculture is their voice, their future, and their opportunity.
For additional details about the 2017 Census of Agriculture, please visit nass.usda.gov/AgCensus.