US Agriculture Faces Disturbing Decline in Family Farms According to 2022 Census

Newly released data from the USDA’s 2022 Census of Agriculture paints a concerning picture for the state of family farms in the United States. The report reveals a significant drop in both the number of operating farms and the total farm acres, raising alarms within the agricultural community.

Compared to 2017, the census indicates a staggering decline of 141,733 farms in 2022. The number of farm acres has also seen a notable reduction, plummeting to 880,100,848 acres—a loss of over 20 million acres within a five-year span.

Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), expressed deep concern, stating, “The latest census numbers put in black and white the warnings our members have been expressing for years.” Duvall attributed the decline to various factors, including increased regulations, rising supply costs, a shortage of available labor, and weather-related disasters, all contributing to the economic challenges faced by farmers.

Duvall emphasized the critical role family farms play in driving the economy and ensuring the nation’s food security. He called on Congress to address the issues highlighted in the census by passing a new farm bill. This, according to Duvall, is crucial for creating an environment that attracts new farmers and allows existing farming families to pass their legacy to the next generation.

While the increase in the number of beginning farmers offers a glimmer of hope, the census underscores the demographic challenge within the farming community. Farmers over the age of 65 outnumber younger farmers, with nearly 1.3 million farmers at or beyond retirement age, compared to just 300,000 farmers under the age of 35.

AFBF, with a longstanding commitment to supporting beginning farmers, advocates for farm bill programs focused on nurturing and assisting new entrants into the farming industry.

For a detailed analysis of the 2022 Census of Agriculture, you can access the full report here.