Agricultural census data available

Well, tillage and planting season will start as soon as the weather cooperates. I know most farmers have everything ready to go, so as soon as the soil dries out they will be hitting the fields in force.

The USDA conducts a Census of Agriculture every five years to view the status of agriculture throughout the country and they use this information to design policies. Any farmer that produces an agricultural crop is required to submit information to the census.

The last census was conducted in 2017, and the USDA has recently released the results, and they are very detailed down to the county level. This is a great snapshot of the current state of agriculture in Trumbull County. You can find the whole report here.

There is a lot of information to digest, and I haven’t had a lot of time to look through it all, but I will highlight a few major points.

The biggest takeaway from the census is that there are more farms in Trumbull County now than there were in 2012 — 148 to be exact. That’s encouraging news.

There are 323 new and beginning farms represented in the most recent census, and if you do a little backwards math, you can see that we lost 175 farms in that same period. That puts a little somber mood on the increase in the number of farms, but I do hope we see that positive trend of more farms continue in the next census.

So the next question is, where are they farming? Well, I don’t know exactly where, but Trumbull County has also seen an increase in the number of acres farmed by almost 10,000 acres. This land was most likely converted from forested land or old fallow ground brought back into production.

If you drive around the county, you will still see thousands of acres of fallow ground that is sitting idle. Although the average size of a farm is 119 acres, that doesn’t tell the whole story. We have several large farms (1,000 acres or more), but the biggest increase in farm size is in the 50-acres-or-less category.

What we are seeing in Trumbull County is mirroring the farming trends throughout the country — a significant increase in the number of small farms.

These smaller farms are not breaking the bank either, and indicates that most of the new farmers have an off-the-farm job as a primary income source. More than half of our farms reported selling their agricultural products for $5,000 or less from the farming operation.

I hate the term “hobby farm,” but I think we have a lot of dedicated farmers out there working hard to bring in supplemental income.

I thought for sure there would be a large increase in vegetable production, beef cows or organic farms. These are the typical small farm trends we see throughout the U.S., but I have not found any single agricultural practice that has a significant increase. It appears that all agricultural segments in the county have increased, which is another great highlight from census.

Like I said, there is a lot of data to make sense of in the census, and I will be working over the next few weeks to get a better understanding of the changes we have seen.

It was a nice surprise to see the number of new farms. We have been losing many farms in the past couple of years, and the general mood around the future of farming is rather gloomy. Our farmers are still struggling, so please support your local farmers at farmers markets, produce stands, and please, please, please, drink more milk!

Master Gardeners events

The Trumbull County Master Gardeners have a busy month coming up. The Wednesdays in the Gardens series is continuing and the next event is May 8, with a presentation on how to make a Japanese moss ball. And then May 22, we are continuing with the Japanese gardening theme with a presentation on bonsai.

Looking out to June 12, join us for a presentation on growing grapes.

These events are free to the public, and start at 6 p.m. (rain or shine) at 520 W. Main St, Cortland. Bring a lawn chair!

The Master Gardeners will also bring back their popular plant sale May 18 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is a great place to buy plants that you know will do great in your garden, and all the proceeds go right back into providing gardening education to Trumbull County. We will have lots of perennials, annuals, and the popular garden tool tent.

Please bring cash or check as we are unable to process credit or debit cards.

For information call the OSU Trumbull County Extension Office at 330-638-6783 or visit our website.

Submitted by Lee Beers, who can be reached by email or phone at 330-638-6738.

 

OFBF Mission: Working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.