USDA Releases 2022 Agriculture Census Data


Every five years, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) conducts a nation-wide survey of farmers and ranchers to understand the trends in “land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures.” These data can be teased out at the state- and even the county-level to help us understand how farming has changed over the last five years. Are there more or fewer farms in Maine? Is organic farming on the rise or are we seeing a decline? These data inform MOFGA’s goals as an organization and help us to understand how the work we do fits into the larger picture of agriculture in the state and across New England. 

Unfortunately, the recently released 2022 Agriculture Census data shows continued farm decline in the United States and a 7.4% decline in the number of farms in Maine compared to 2017 data. This captures the reality of the disruption that farmers have experienced in recent years, and shows that we need further investment in local and regional support for agriculture. The COVID-19 pandemic and related challenges of increased feed and input prices, rising  land values, increased labor costs and variable availability, and climate disruption — including several years of drought — have impacted farms. 

Over the next several weeks, we will conduct a more in-depth analysis of the dataset and look forward to sharing our findings soon.

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