Indiana farmers are among the most productive and efficient in the U.S., according to the latest Census of Agriculture, released last week. The census, taken every five years, is the nation’s most comprehensive agricultural survey and shows trend data on variety of topics ranging from production to economics to farmer demographics.
In 2017, agricultural production in the U.S. was valued at $389 billion, of which, more than $11 billion came from the Hoosier state. Nationwide, this puts Indiana in the top 10 for total agricultural products sold, and, combined, these states made up more than 54 percent of total U.S. sales, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.
“The value of agricultural production has more than doubled over the past two decades in Indiana,” said Bruce Kettler, Indiana State Department of Agriculture director. “This census sheds light on Indiana’s agricultural footprint, historically and economically, and we can use this data to support farmers and drive our strategic efforts in the state.”
According to the census, Indiana had 56,649 farms in 2017, which was down 2,046 farms over the five-year period. Most of Indiana’s farms were between 10 and 500 acres, but the average size was 264 acres, up 5 percent from 2012. The U.S. had just over 2 million farms, with 96 percent family owned and operated.
Of the total number of Hoosier farms, the 8,700 that produced $250,000 or more in 2017 represented more than 87 percent of the total value of production, while the 38,900 operations making under $50,000 represented just 2.9 percent.
Farmland in Indiana increased to 15 million acres, or 65 percent of the state’s total land, and there were more than 94,000 farmers in 2017, with an average age of 55.5 years-old. This was up from 53.8 in 2012 but younger than the national average of 57.5.
Although net farm income went down in Indiana, going from $52,861 in 2012 to $50,171 in 2017, Hoosier farmers still made more than the national average set at $43,053.
For the first time, the census collected data on military service and revealed that Indiana had nearly 7,921 farmers that were serving in 2017 or had prior service. The census also found that while a majority of farmers were male in Indiana, the number of female producers grew significantly, up 30 percent from 2012.
Additionally, minority-operated farms in all categories also increased, and there were over 23,000 new and beginning farmers in 2017.
“We are seeing a trend of diversity in agriculture, and I couldn’t be more proud to see the significant jump of women and minorities involved in this industry,” said Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. “Agriculture has always been Indiana’s calling card and the backbone of our economy. As we plan for the future, I look forward to working alongside our farmers, as they continue to feed and fuel our world.”
More conservation is happening on Hoosier farms, census data shows. Indiana farmers planted 936,000 acres of cover crops in 2017, up 57 percent from 2012, and Indiana ranked No. 3 in the nation in acres planted. Farmers practiced reduced tillage on 4.1 million acres, which was up 1 million from five years ago.
Other highlights found the number of renewable energy systems in Indiana more than doubled, and more Hoosier farmers had access to the internet, increasing from 65 percent in 2012 to 72 percent in 2017, mirroring national trends.
The following list includes Indiana’s top five agricultural products sold by market value as of 2017.
- Grains, oilseeds, dry beans, and dry peas: $6.7 billion
- Poultry and eggs: $1.3 billion
- Hogs and pigs: $1.3 billion
- Milk from cows: $708 million
- Cattle and calves: $510 million