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Ag Census: More Missouri Young Farmers in Livestock
Missouri Ag Connection - 04/12/2019

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agriculture Statistics Service published the latest Census of Agriculture. Missouri agriculture remains second in the number of farms in the United States with more than 95,000 farms on 27.8 million acres. The data showcases the state's unique foothold in agriculture commodity diversity and ability to bring home the next generation of agriculture's workforce.

"Missouri agriculture has shown incredible progress in producing some of the safest, most abundant food in the world, while maintaining our traditional values," said Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn. "It's important that we continue that progress by connecting every last mile to high-speed internet. I truly believe that's the key to bringing home the next generation, creating greater on-farm efficiency and implementing the latest cutting-edge technology."

While soybean, corn, cattle, poultry and hog production account for 88 percent of Missouri agricultural sales, specialty crops thrive in the Show Me State as well. Missouri is home several growing agricultural sectors like elderberries, honey production, mushrooms, sheep and goats, among others.

The average age of the Missouri farmer increased by one year to 59.4 years. However, farms specializing in the livestock sectors of hogs, dairy and poultry showed a significantly younger average age. Hog farms are made up of 25 percent young farmers, which is defined as 35 years or less. Data also showed that between 16-20% of producers on dairy, poultry, sheep and goat producers are young farmers.

"If you look back 20 years ago, it's clear that we are more productive than we've ever been in Missouri," said Bob Garino, Missouri USDA-NASS state statistician. "Today, there is more corn, soybeans and rice acres harvested and beef cattle raised annually throughout Missouri on fewer operations."

Connectivity in rural Missouri continues to be a priority of Governor Mike Parson, the Missouri Department of Agriculture and many agriculture groups. The Census data revealed that only 73 percent of farms have access to some form of internet. Missouri farms rely predominately on mobile, DSL and satellite connections to gather, analyze and use their agricultural data.

The Census tells the story of American agriculture and is an important part of our history. First conducted in 1840 in conjunction with the decennial Census, the Census of Agriculture accounts for all U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. After 1920, the Census happened every four to five years. By 1982, it was regularly conducted once every five years. Today, NASS sends questionnaires to nearly 3 million potential U.S. farms and ranches. Nearly 25 percent of those who responded did so online. Conducted since 1997 by USDA NASS -- the federal statistical agency responsible for producing official data about U.S. agriculture -- it remains the only source of comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the nation and is invaluable for planning the future.

For additional details about the 2017 Census of Agriculture, please visit nass.usda.gov/AgCensus.

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