Census of Agriculture - FIC

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Census of Agriculture

The Census of Agriculture is a “complete count” of farms and ranches and the people who operate them for every state and county in the United States. Conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the census is the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agricultural data. On February 13, 2024, NASS released the 2022 Census of Agriculture.

Census of Agriculture Data Dashboard

The data dashboard includes a sample of data items frequently requested by people working to save farmland and ranchland for agriculture. These include census data on land use and ownership, operator characteristics, crops, livestock and production practices, income, and expenditures. The first compilation focuses on Land in Farms data. Additional data compilations will be added to this page in the coming weeks.

The Census of Agriculture tracks land use on farms and ranches as reported by producers. Major land use categories include cropland; permanent pasture and rangeland; woodland; and other land including farmsteads, buildings, livestock facilities, ponds, roads, etc. Combined, these categories equal “land in farms.” 

Declines in land in farms are concerning. Land that is no longer part of a farm or ranch operation may be more vulnerable to development. A shrinking supply of land in active agricultural use creates additional barriers for beginning and established producers seeking suitable land. A smaller pool of land devoted to agriculture limits opportunities to establish sound farming practices and/or management systems.   

However, net changes in land in farms can be misleading. They provide one measure of the extent of agricultural activity, but do not tell us what is happening to the resource base. Decreases in land in farms do not necessarily indicate conversion; rather, they show that land has been taken out of active production. Better sources of information about agricultural land development and dynamic changes in land cover/use are the National Resources Inventory, conducted by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Farms Under Threat completed by American Farmland Trust. 

For More Information

Visit American Farmland Trust

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