Feb 14, 2024
Sustainable ag coalition, USDA sound alarm on loss of farms

The 2022 Census of Agriculture, recently released by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), underscores the need for federal policies that support small and medium farms, according to the National Sustainable Agricultural Coalition (NASC).

The census is the most comprehensive source of agricultural data for states and counties and serves as a guide for federal farm program, policy and funding decisions. According to NSAC, the report comes at a crucial moment for federal agriculture policy.

Mike Lavender

“The 2022 Census of Agriculture, while offering some bright spots, emphatically underscores the need to shift federal policy toward equitable support for all farms and types of farming, particularly small and mid-sized farms,” Mike Lavender, NSAC policy director, said in a news release. “Today, farms are larger and fewer in number than in 2017. While the total number of farms with more than $1 million in sales grew by an astounding 36% since 2017, the number of all remaining farms decreased by nearly 9% during that time.

“Furthermore, Black-owned farms appear to have disappeared at nearly twice the rate of all other farms,” Lavender said in the release. “One bright spot is an 11% increase in the number of beginning farmers.“

Every five years, the Census of Agriculture collects data on the status of agriculture, addressing a variety of topics, including the number and size of farms, the prevalence of organic agriculture, the use of conservation and other federal programs, the number of beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and the average age of American farmers.

“This survey is a wake-up call,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press conference on the release of the census results on Feb. 13. “It’s essentially asking the critical question of whether as a country we are okay with losing that many farms, okay with losing that much farmland? Or is there a better way?”

The NSAC will continue to analyze the census data on its blog, https://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/

“The data included today in the 2022 Census of Agriculture shows clearly how imperative it is that Congress prioritize the passage of a strong farm bill to ensure that federal programs — from the farm safety net and conservation programs to programs that invest in local and regional food systems — are consistently accessible for all,” Lavender said in the release.

For more information visit: nass.usda.gov/AgCensus or view the USDA livestream data release event: USDA.gov/Live.

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