The 2017 Census of Agriculture was released last week. There are just over 2 million farms in the country, 56,649 of those are here in Indiana. That number represents about a 4,500 farm drop in the last 10 years while the average size of a farm and the total number of farmed acres have increased. Director of National Government Relations for Indiana Farm Bureau Bob White says that tells him that we have some people getting out of the industry and that consolidation is a continuing trend.
“The medium sized folks are going one way or the other. It is what it is. People say they don’t like consolidation, but the way that the market forces in the US, in Indiana, and in the world for that matter, basically pushed the margins so thin that the only way to gain profitability is to add more acres or more pigs.”
The census also highlighted more female producers around the country. Changes were made to the questions asked regarding female producers to more accurately capture that number in this census, which would count for some of the increase, but White says he feels the increase in the census correlates to Indiana Farm Bureau’s membership.
“A lot of times when the one spouse passes on, the matriarch of the family then takes over control and management of the operation. You’re seeing more and more of that in specific instances. Most of our farms in Indiana, about 96 percent of them or more, are family owned. So, it is a family operation where mom and dad, and then they bring in sons, daughters, daughters-in-law, whatever the case may be. In farming, there has to be a leader in that family. You’re seeing more veterans and more minority owners and that is good to see. We need that diversity.”
Indiana state level data from the 2017 census can be found here. An overview of the findings can be found in the document below.