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Census of Agriculture gives snapshot of Oregon farms

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Oregon is reporting fewer farms, larger farms, and older average age of farmers and ranchers, according to the latest US Census of Agriculture:

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Audio 01
The preliminary numbers are out, and one statistic in particular stands out, according to Dave Losh of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service:

LOSH:  “The number of farms in Oregon is down significantly from 2007. We’re seeing decreases pretty much in all the different size categories.”  :12

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There are more than 35-thousand farms in Oregon, but that’s down more than 8 percent from the 38-thousand farms reported in the last census, five years ago. Another statistic of note shows that Oregon farmers are getting grayer:

LOSH:  “Oregon went from 57.5 years in 2007 up to 59.6 years in 2012. So we’re getting older at an increasing rate.”  :11

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Oregon’s trends are similar to what is going on nationally, where there was a four percent decrease in the number of US farms….now at more than 2.1 million. Despite fewer farms, the amount of land in farms has changed little in five years, which means the average size of farm has increased. More detailed information from the Census of Agriculture will be released in May, including statistics at the county level. In Salem, I’m Bruce Pokarney.

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LOSH says a big drop in the number of farm operators in Oregon is in the category of part-time farmers:

“So if we look at the decrease in farmers in Oregon, we see there was more of a decrease on those who say their primary occupation is other than farming rather than those who said that farming is their main occupation.”  :15

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LOSH says even though there were fewer farmers reported in this latest census, Oregon hasn’t lost much land in farms:

“Even though we had such a decrease in farm operators, that the amount of land in farms only decreased slightly. That’s why you see that the average size of farm continued to increase, went from 425 to 460 acres.”  :15

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