Virginia 2012 Census of Agriculture Notes

Jim Pease, Extension Economist, Dept. of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech

  • Total market value of sales rose $847m from 2007 (+29%), the highest ever recorded in a Virginia ag census. Crop sales increased $501.8m (+58.5%) over 2007, and livestock sales increased $345.3m over 2007 (+16.9%). Despite the increase in crop sales, Virginia 2007 farm livestock, poultry and animal product sales were still nearly 64% of total sales.
  • Total farm expenses rose $783m from 2007 (+29%), keeping pace with the increase in farm sales since 2007. Among major expense categories, livestock and poultry purchased/leased increased 31%, feed purchased increased 47%, fertilizers increased 24%, and hired labor increased 21%.
  • Number of farms fell to 46,030 , down by a little less than 3% from 2007 (~1300 farms) and 3.3% below 2002. Number of acres in farms increased to 8.3 m acres, up 2.5% from 2007, but down about 300K acres from 2002. Average farm size about 180 acres, relatively steady from 2007.Total market value of land and buildings up considerably from 2007 to $3.3B, up 7% from 2002 and up 67% from 2002. Number of farms over 1,000 acres was 1375 in 2012, up only 50 farms from 2007. The number of farms below 180 acres was down to 34,618 in 2012, falling about 5% from 2007, slightly more than overall decline of 3% in all Va farms 2007-2012.
  • Total cropland acres was 2.99 m acres in 2012, down from 3.27 m acres in 2007 (~284,00 acres,-8.7%), and down 1.2 m acres (-28.7%) from 2002. Harvested cropland, however, was 2.6 m acres, nearly constant across the last 4 census periods. Irrigated farms were up a little from 2007, but total irrigated acres were down 13,500 acres or 16.5% from 2007. This represents the lowest irrigated acreage since 1992. The acreage in orchards fell by 3% to 19,114 acres in 2012, the lowest on record, and down nearly 10,000 acres from that of ten years ago.
  • The number of Virginia farms raising beef cows declined to 19,596 farms in 2012, down 10.5% from 2007. This Census marks the first time on record that the number of Virginia beef farms has fallen below 20,000. The number of beef cows on Virginia farms in 2012 decreased by about 38,000 from 2007 (-5.4%), a much lower decrease than the 11.8% reduction in beef cow inventory across the whole US. The number of dairy farms held steady from 2007 to 2012, but the number of Virginia milk cows continued its decline, falling 4.8% to 94,105 cows in 2012, its lowest level on record. The number of broilers (young chickens) sold fell by 4.6% to 237.7 m birds. The number of broilers sold in 2012 is the lowest number since at least 1997.
  • The average age of farm operators rose from 58.2 years to 59.5 years from 2007 to 2012, and was up 3.7 years on average since the 1997 Ag Census.
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