The United States Department of Agriculture released its final version of the 2012 Census of Agriculture last week. This industry-specific census tells us where South Dakota’s number one industry has been and where it’s going.
The number of farms is growing. The 2012 census revealed that the number of farms in South Dakota had increased by 3% since 2007, totaling 31,898. This was also up from 2002 when the total was 31,736.
Farms are getting smaller. The average size of a South Dakota farm in 2012 was 1,352 acres, a decrease of 3% (49 acres) from 2007. The average farm size was also slightly smaller than the total in 2002.
Total cropland is down by more than a million acres from the 2002 census. Land in farms also decreased by 3% from 2007.
The average farmer didn’t age. The average age of South Dakota farmers remained at 55 years old. The data shows that more young people are now farming as the number of farmers under the age of 24 was up by 14% and the number of farmers between the ages of 25-34 also increased by 13% from 2007.
Family farms increased. South Dakota saw an increase of more than 900 family farms from 2007 to 2012.
Ag product values are up. Ag products sold in 2012 totaled more than $10 billion, a 35% increase from 2007. The value of corn sold in South Dakota more than doubled from $1.4B in 2007 to $3B in 2012.
Farming costs have skyrocketed. Farm expenses in South Dakota increased by more than $3 billion from less than $5B in 2007 to more than $8B 2012.
Farms are going green. The 2012 census showed that 703 South Dakota farms are producing renewable energy. 226 had solar panels, 109 had wind turbines and 381 had geothermal pumps, 6 had hydro systems and 2 had methane digesters.
Cover crops are catching on. South Dakota farmers planted cover crops on nearly 150,000 acres in 2012.
View the full report and read the entire 613 pages on South Dakota here:
For national statistics, USDA has some great infographics.