The number of farms with sheep and lambs has increase by more than 9,000 in the last five years, according to the 2007 Census of Agriculture released this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Overall, the number of farms in the United States has grown 4 percent, and the operators of those farms have become more diverse in the past five years.
"The Census of Agriculture is a valuable tool that provides the general public with an accurate and comprehensive view of American agriculture. It's also a set of benchmarks against which this department must measure and demonstrate its performance to agriculture and the taxpayer," said Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The 2007 Census counted 2,204,792 farms in the United States, a net increase of 75,810 farms. Nearly 300,000 new farms have begun operation since the last census in 2002. Compared to all farms nationwide, these new farms tend to have more diversified production, fewer acres, lower sales and younger operators who also work off-farm.
The latest census figures show a continuation in the trend towards more small and very large farms and fewer mid-sized operations. Between 2002 and 2007, the number of farms with sales of less than $2,500 increased by 74,000. The number of farms with sales of more than $500,000 grew by 46,000 during the same period.
Census results show that the majority of U.S. farms are smaller operations. More than 36 percent are classified as residential/lifestyle farms, with sales of less than $250,000 and operators with a primary occupation other than farming. Another 21 percent are retirement farms, which have sales of less than $250,000 and operators who reported they are retired.
The census is available at www.agcensus.usda.gov.