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USDA Releases 2002 Census of Agriculture

Half of America’s farms and ranches have Internet access, and nearly 39% report using a computer for their farm business, according a news release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that shares new data from the 2002 Census of Agriculture.

"These data illustrate the importance of the eGovernment initiatives being implemented by USDA," said Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman. "We are making more information available to farmers and ranchers through the Internet and helping to provide broadband access to rural communities. To date, this administration has provided over $253 million in broadband loans for rural areas."

Conducted every five years by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), the census of agriculture attempts to reach every agricultural operator in America through a mail survey. Follow-ups by telephone or personal interview are conducted for those who do not respond by mail. Data represent all agricultural operations, defined as any place that sold or normally would have sold more than $1,000 worth of agricultural products during the census year.

2002 Census highlights include:
• The top five states in value of agricultural products sold are: California, $25.7 billion; Texas, $14.1 billion; Iowa, $12.3 billion; Nebraska, $9.7 billion; and Kansas, $8.7 billion.

• Ninety percent of farms are operated by an individual or family. The number of corporate farms declined by 18.4% from 1997 to 2002, which reverses a trend that has continued without interruption since 1974.

• Direct sales to consumers increased 37% from 1997, totaling $812.2 million in 2002.

• The value of organically produced commodities reached $392.8 million in 2002.

•The estimated market value of land and buildings on the Nation’s farms rose 24% from 1997 to 2002. The average value per farm increased by more than $100,000 during the five-year period, reaching an average of $537,833 in 2002. The average value of land and buildings per acre increased more than $200 during that same time period to $1,213 per acre in 2002.

• The average age of principal farm or ranch operators was 55.3 years compared to 54 in 1997. But, for the first time, NASS collected information about more than one operator on the same farm. Results showed an average age of second operators at 49.4 and of third operators at 41.9.

Thousands of aggregated facts and figures can be accessed online from the NASS Web site at www.usda.gov/nass by clicking on "Census of Agriculture." Census publications and a CD-ROM for queries (scheduled for release later this month) are also available for sale through the National Technical Information Service at 1-800-999-6779.

NASS collects and provides a vast array of production, economic, demographic and environmental facts about U.S. agriculture through regularly scheduled weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual reports. For more information about agriculture statistics, visit NASS online at www.usda.gov/nass or call 1-800-727-9540.

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