February 20, 2004
Feb. 20, 2004 -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture?s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) announced preliminary demographic data from the 2002 Census of Agriculture ? the nation?s largest agricultural information-gathering project.
?The 2002 Census of Agriculture serves as the most comprehensive source of data describing U.S. agriculture,? said Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman. ?The results show the great diversity of people involved in this important segment of our economy.?
Veneman added that the results show African American, American Indian, Hispanic and women operators are all significant contributors to agriculture, and that their numbers have all increased since 1997.
A few of the morsels of information released include:
- The average age of American agricultural producers in 2002 was 55.3 years-old.
- 27.2 percent of agricultural producers were women in 2002; the number of women who were principal operators increased 12.6 percent from 1997.
- Ninety percent of America?s agricultural operations are still run by individuals or families and most are still small farms. The majority of operations ? 59 percent -- had less than $10,000 of sales of agricultural products in 2002.
The final 2002 Census of Agriculture data will be released on June 3, 2004. The report will provide a variety of facts including: production contracts; farm computer and Internet use; land use and ownership; livestock and poultry inventories; and participation in Federal farm programs, to name a few.
This census is currently conducted every five years with the first being conducted in conjunction with the 1840 population census.