Report: Fewer But Bigger Illinois Farms
ST. LOUIS (AP) - A new federal report shows Illinois has lost nearly 1,800 farms, though an increase in the state's agricultural acreage perhaps reflects consolidation.
The findings come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's farming census conducted every five years. The latest figures are as of 2012.
The report shows the number of farms statewide fell by 1,773 to 75,087 between 2007 and 2012. But the farm acreage rose to 26.94 million, up more than 162,000 acres.
The census also showed that the average size of an Illinois farm climbed by 11 acres, to 359.
Nationwide, the report says the number of farms slip 4.3 percent to 2.1 million, with the total amount of agricultural land relatively flat at 922 acres.
But Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack points to a bright spot in the report released Thursday: a small rise in the number of farmers between 25 and 34 years old.
Vilsack says the boost in the number of younger farmers is due to increased interest and government support for locally grown foods and a thriving export market.
He said he is concerned about the survival of middle-sized farms, which declined in the last five years. The number of larger and smaller farms held mostly steady.
The report is used in evaluating and implementing agriculture policies and programs.
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