Meat & Livestock News

2022 Census of Agriculture Unveils Key Trends in US Farming


  • The 2022 Census of Agriculture reveals a 7% decrease in the number of US farms to 1.9 million, with an average farm size increase of 463 acres.
  • There’s a notable rise in new and young farmers, with over 1 million beginning farmers and 296,480 producers under the age of 35.
  • Significant growth in renewable energy use on farms, internet access, and direct sales to consumers, highlighting shifts towards modernisation and sustainability.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released the 2022 Census of Agriculture on February 13, providing a comprehensive overview of the state of American agriculture. The census, which collects data down to the county level, indicates a continued decline in the total number of farms in the United States but also shows an encouraging increase in the number of new and young farmers entering the field.

The census, which encompasses over 6 million data points, shows that the number of farms and ranches in the US has decreased by 7% from 2017, now totalling 1.9 million. Despite this decline, the average farm size has grown by 5% to 463 acres. This shift suggests a consolidation trend in farming operations across the country.

One of the positive highlights from the census is the rise in new and beginning farmers, defined as those operating for 10 or fewer years on any farm, as well as an increase in young producers under the age of 35. This demographic change points to a rejuvenation in the farming sector, with just over 1 million beginning farmers and 296,480 young producers making significant decisions on their farms.

The census data also reveal significant strides towards modernisation and sustainability in farming practices. There has been a 15% increase in farms and ranches using renewable energy-producing systems since 2017, with the majority employing solar panels. Internet access on farms has risen to 79% in 2022, facilitating better connectivity and access to digital resources for farmers.

Direct sales to consumers have also seen a notable increase, with 116,617 farms engaging in direct sales, generating $3.3 billion in revenue. This 16% increase from 2017 highlights a growing trend towards local and direct food supply chains.

Family-owned and operated farms continue to dominate the US agricultural landscape, accounting for 95% of all farms and operating 84% of the land in farms. The census also notes a slight increase in the average age of producers to 58.1 years, although the rate of ageing has slowed compared to previous years.

The 2022 Census of Agriculture offers a vital snapshot of the trends and shifts within the US agricultural industry, providing valuable insights for policymakers, researchers, and farmers alike. The data underscore the challenges of decreasing farm numbers but also highlight areas of growth and innovation that point towards a resilient and evolving sector.