Minnesota Farmer


Ag by the numbers
February 6, 2013, 12:43 pm
Filed under: Ag education, Ag promotion, Farm, history | Tags: , ,

Paul Harvey’s recitation of “God made a Farmer” in the Superbowl ad has a lot of

people talking about the changes in farming. So how much has farming changed

since Paul’s speech in 1979 and today?

Using the numbers from our most recent U.S. Agriculture Survey (2007, a new one

is being conducted for 2012), here are some interesting comparisons:

In 1978, there were 2,257,775 farms, averaging 449 acres each. In 2007, those

numbers reduced to 2,204,792 farms averaging 418 acres each. Farmers today

are actually smaller by 31 acres.

Today the market value of farmland and buildings is $1,892 per acre. That is up

from $619 per acre in 1978 – an increase of $1,273 per acre.

Today we have 922,095,840 acres of farmland in the United States. In 1978, that

number was 1,014,777,234 – a decrease of 92,681,394 acres.

In 1978, 56% of farmers claimed farming as their primary occupation and 44% of

farmers claimed zero days away from the farm work.

Today, 45% of farmers claim farming as their primary occupation and 35.3% of

farmers claim zero days away from the farm work.

Our average farmers have aged almost 7 years since 1978. Today the average

farmer is 57.1 years old.

The numbers have changed, and so has much of the technology farmers use to

produce much more food on much fewer acres, but the person remains the same.

The characteristics, values, hard work, determination, and grit it takes to work day

in and out, producing food for a global food supply, still holds true 35 years after

the late Paul Harvey first made his description.

My Thanks to Ryan Goodman for putting these figures together for me.

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