Farm revenues stagnant in latest ag census

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 April 2019 at 1:59 pm

Orleans farm revenues rank 14th most among counties in NY

Photo by Tom Rivers: Hay bales are pictured in Yates near Lake Ontario in this photo from August 2014.

The latest agricultural census from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows farm revenues are stagnated from 2012 to 2017.

The U.S. government does the Census of Agriculture every five years. In New York, farm revenues totaled $5,369,212,000 in 2017. That was down slightly from the $5,415,125,000 in 2012. (From 2007 to 2012, the farm revenues increased 24.9 percent or by $1.1 billion from the $4.42 billion in 2007.)

In Orleans County, farm products sold for $155.3 million in 2017. That was up 3.3 percent over 5 years from the $150.3 million in 2012 for sales of fruit, vegetables, milk, livestock and other farm products. The 2012 figure was a 48.8 percent jump from the $101.0 million recorded in 2007, according to the Agricultural Census.

Agriculture is Orleans County’s leading industry. The 2017 Ag Census counts 498 farms in the county. The number of farms in the county is up from the 487 in 2012. (It was 554 in 2007.)

However, the number of land farmed dropped from 135,090 acres in 2012 to 129,573 acres of land in farm production in 2017.

In Orleans, there were 31,711 acres of corn for grain which produced 5,732,321 bushels in 2017. Orleans farmers also worked 21,614 acres for soybeans, producing 1,056,311 bushels. Farmers also used 13,011 acres for vegetables, and 6,006 acres for fruit orchards.

In Orleans, more than half of the farms had less than $10,000 in revenue. The Ag Census reports there are 181 farms in the county with less than $2,500 in revenue; 41 between $2,500 to $4,999; 44 between $5,000 to $9,999; 60 between $10,000 to $24,999; 40 between $25,000 to $49,999; 23 between $50,000 to $99,999; and 109 with $100,000 or more.

The top 15 counties in NYS for farm revenue

1) Wyoming, $307.5 million

2) Cayuga: $287.9 million

3) Genesee: $234.9 million

4) Suffolk, $225.6 million

5) Wayne, $221.3 million

6) Ontario, $205.2 million

7) Steuben, $196.0 million

8) St Lawrence, 191.1 million

9) Livingston: $183.7 million

10) Onondaga, $178.4 million

11) Clinton, $167.8 million

12) Jefferson, $165.1 million

13) Chautauqua: $161.0 million

14) Orleans $155.3 million

15) Lewis, $153.1 million

Source: U.S. Ag Census

NY saw 20 percent drop in dairy farms

David Fisher, president of New York Farm Bureau, issued this statement about the Ag Census:

“The most startling statistic is we now have 33,438 farms in the state, about 2,100 fewer farms than 2012. This is the largest drop in more than two decades and is triple the national average of a 3 percent loss. The losses run the gamut, including a 9 percent drop in both the smallest and largest farms in terms of value of sales.

“New York also saw a nearly 20-percent decline in the number of dairy farms in the state. These losses coincide with 9 percent increase in labor costs, while some other production costs like feed, gasoline and chemicals declined. The average net farm income of $42,875 per farm is slightly below the national average.

“On the positive side, there were elements of growth. New York saw a 35 percent increase in organic farms, from 864 in 2012 to 1,330 farms in 2017. According to the market value summary, the number of vegetable farms in the state is 3,544 farms, up 2 percent, and fruit farms rose 8 percent to 3,083 farms. New York had a 15 percent jump in maple operations to 1,662 in the state.

“While there is still much more to learn as we evaluate the mountain of data, it is clear that the depressed farm economy has taken a toll on the overall number of farms in New York, as labor costs continue to mount for our family farms. At the same time, there are still opportunities across the board. Agriculture remains a leading driver of our rural economy and the data shows we must continue to invest in the farming community while also finding ways to improve the business climate for our more than 33,000 farms in the state.”

Additional numbers:

• 98% of farms in New York are family owned

• 6,866,171 acres in production, down from 7,183,576 in 2012

• Average farm size is 205 acres, up from 202 acres in 2012

• 21,860 female producers and 35,985 male producers

• Average producer age is 55.8 years old.

• 6,718 producers under the age of 35

• Hired farm labor is 55,363 employees

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