Some of the key findings of the census, according to Clark:

  • The number of farms has decreased by about 4 percent since 2007.

“The number of farms has been decreasing for the past 30 years, though, so that isn’t really new news.”

  • Land in farms has remained fairly steady from the last census.

“So, it appears the land in farms is just being consolidated into fewer operations.”

  • Value of sales shows a dramatic increase.

“We had large farm sales in 2012. In fact, we had larger crop sales than livestock sales -- the first time that has happened since 1974. In part, that is due to the 2012 drought when there were high commodity prices.

“That may not all be good news because the inputs for production also went up during that period. What the farmer may have ended up (netting) may not have been much more than in the past.”

  • Shifting demographics.

“We are seeing an increase in minority principal farm operators across all minority groups. The most significant change was in the Hispanic demographic.

“Women farm operators slightly decreased. But we’re talking about principal farm operators now. In our next release in May, we’ll have information on up to three farm operators. So, we’ll likely see a larger participation of women as secondary operators.”

What about younger farmers coming into the business?

“The trend in age in principal farm operators has increased to 58 years. The age of farmers has risen about one year through each census.

“There’s been a significant decrease in the age groups of 45 to 54 and 35 to 44. Farmers under 25 and 25 to 35 show the same numbers as in 2007. You’d expect that may be because the younger farmers aren’t entering the business as a principal operator.”

Does anything stand out regionally?

“One of the things is that Missouri is second in number of farms.

“The number of farms has decreased in every Mid-South state. Meanwhile, the average size of farms in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi has increased.

“Also, the market value of crops sold has increased. Livestock value has also gone up but not as much as crops.

“The number of farms has decreased in the South and Southeast and has increased in the Southwest.”