The 2012 Ag Census indicates greater numbers of large farms and small farms. Of the 2.1 million U.S. farms, 68 percent are under 180 acres, but most the total land in farms is in operations of 2,000 acres or larger. U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack tells Brownfield those opposite ends of spectrum are growing.
“What’s shrinking is the middle, and that’s what I’m concerned about,” Secretary Vilsack told Brownfield Ag News Friday. “It’s why I’m looking forward to instituting and implementing the farm bill programs because I think it will help begin the process of rebuilding the middle in agriculture, which I think is important to preserving populations is rural areas and revitalizing the rural economy overall.”
Vilsack says larger farms are doing well as a result of economies of scale and the number of small farms is growing because of interest in local and regional food systems.
The Census reveals shortcomings in technology. Despite Obama administration efforts to bolster rural broadband access, the Census says fully 10 percent of famers continue to access the internet via dial-up service.
“We are still in the process of implementing those projects which I think will decrease those numbers that you’re looking at,” he said. “I think there has been an increase in utilization by farmers and greater access across the country because of the projects that have been completed. And every year we continue to invest in greater expansion.”
Secretary Vilsack sums up the Ag Census by saying that data matters. He says that what the Census uncovers regarding farm income and the cost of doing business makes the farm bill farm safety net all the more important.