Tasty Tidbits from the Census of Agriculture


My high school math teachers might be surprised by this–but I like to play with numbers–especially when I can extract some meaning from them. Perhaps it’s the whole meaning thing that was lost on me in high school.

All figures are gleaned from the newly-released USDA 2007 Census of Agriculture.  Some calculations are my own. Front page of the Census linked to here. You have to go into the lefthand menu for Census 2007 to get into the serious numbers (and not just what the USDA perceives as “highlights”).

It should be mentioned that Puerto Rico was also involved in the survey, but their production was not included in comparisons with the states. It should also be mentioned that a huge percentage of their farms are 15 acres or less in size, and they produce a huge amount of produce.

Number of farms in South Dakota 2002: 31,736
Number of farms in South Dakota 2007: 31,169
South Dakota has lost 567 farms in the last five years
Thirty-eight states saw their total number of farms increase
South Dakota has lost 118,676 acres in farm production
But the average size of the farms we have has grown by 21 acres

We have 45,864 farmer operators in South Dakota
28,775 of the principle operators are men (87%)
2,394 of the principle operators are women (13%)
Women comprised 63.5% of secondary operators
Women comprised 34% of tertiary operators

Nationwide, there are 3,281,534 farm operators
Nationwide, there were 2,204,792 male principle operators
Nationwide, there were 306,209 female principle operators (8.2%)
67% of secondary operators are women
40% of tertiary operators are women

The average age of South Dakota principle operators is 55.7
Nationwide, the average age of principle operators is 57
Nationwide, the average age of new farmers is 48

The market value of South Dakota’s total ag production has grown from 3.83 billion dollars in 2002 to 6.87 billion in 2007.
Our total government payments have also grown, though not by much–from about 215 million dollars in 2002 to 271 million in 2007.

In South Dakota 2007, there were slightly less than 1,000 farms of less than ten acres in size.
In South Dakota 2007, there were slightly less than 10,000 farms of one thousand or more acres in size.

In 2007, South Dakota ranked (among the 50 states included):
9th in market value of grains, oilseeds, dry beans and dry peas produced
8th in market value of cattle and calves produced
5th in market value of sheep, goats, and their products produced
DEAD LAST in market value of vegetables, melons, potatoes, and sweet potatoes produced

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2 responses to this post.

  1. I guess this means if you live in SoDak and you like fresh veggies, you better grow your own!

  2. Posted by flyingtomato on February 7, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Or cozy up to your favorite produce farmer if you happen to know one. 😉

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