Agriculture: Are we disappearing?


By Jill Smith

Guest columnist

Is agriculture disappearing? The size of this question is complicated, and frankly not easily explained. The question stems from the recently released 2022 Census data from the USDA. While the number of farms is decreasing that is not the whole story of what is happening in agriculture. We are much bigger than that!

What got lost in the headlines was that there was an increase in new, beginning, and young farmers. These are individuals who are involved in farm decision-making under the age of 35. This group of people is taking the industry by the horns (please see cow reference) and making it their own. From using modern technology to direct market to consumers, creating niche markets for their agriculture products, and leading our industry into the future. This is only good news for agriculture.

The census also showed that U.S. farmland makes up almost 40% of our nation’s total land, and family farms constitute 95% of all farms in America. U.S. agriculture is still providing the safest, most affordable (and yes, I know that it is hard to believe by the price of your groceries) food in the world. That is all done by farm families in our community and beyond.

Are farmers and others in the agriculture industry concerned about a decline in the number of farms and the amount of farmland? Yes, and the reasons for this decrease vary from urban sprawl, energy growth, and other developments. However, the census also indicates that U.S. farms and ranches are more productive, and even more profitable than five years prior. The industry is shifting and farms are growing larger for the most part to be more profitable for the families running them and to be able to grow their operations so younger family members can join them. However, smaller farms are still playing a vital role in agriculture and growing their roles. Whether that is through direct marketing to consumers, small crop operations or just working on a smaller scale these farms are still vital to our agriculture community and industry makeup.

What is most apparent with all these census findings is the importance of those in the agriculture industry to speak up, and out about what we do and why. Our industry can only stay vital if we are talking about it. So, I ask that all of you join us during ag week, by saying thank you local farmers for the food they produce and how they are working in an industry that is vital to every function of our daily life. As a 4th generation farmer’s daughter, I am proud to fight each day to keep our industry strong, join me in this fight!

Want to learn more? The complete 2022 census is available at and Ohio Farm Bureau

The writer is the Ohio Farm Bureau’s senior organization director and member development specialist serving Auglaize, Logan, Mercer and Shelby counties.

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