The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released its findings from the 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture last week based on self-reported data from more than 70 percent of producers across the United States. Key findings in Massachusetts were that the number of farm operations has shrank to 7,241 and acreage has declined to 491,653.   “We were disappointed, but not surprised, to learn that the number of farming operations in Massachusetts have decreased from 2012 to 2017 by about 500 farms,” said Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation President Mark Amato. “With a crippling drought a few years ago, increasing expenses and increasingly tough regulations, agriculture in the Commonwealth has been hard hit.   “However, there were still some bright spots to this report, including that there are 1,238 young producers under the age of 35 who farm 73,389 acres in the Commonwealth. While this hasn’t been measured before, it is refreshing to see this large number of young folks interested in farming.”   Other interesting facts that the 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture for Massachusetts include the following:

  • There are 3,538 new and beginning producers in Massachusetts who farm 126,026 acres.
  • There are 5,572 female producers who farm 284,208 acres in Massachusetts.
  • There are 204 organic farms in Massachusetts and organic sales were up to almost $32.8 million in 2017.
  • Massachusetts’ farmland is valued at $10,894 per acre.
  • The number of operations that are harvesting renewable energy has increased to 1,435 from just 465 in 2012.

For more information about the U.S. Census of Agriculture, please visit:  https://www.nass.usda.gov/AgCensus/.