March 19, 2024

Ag Economy

Celebrating National Ag Day with Highlights from the USDA Ag Census

By: Farm Credit East Knowledge Exchange


Established in 1973, National Ag Day is celebrated each March to recognize agriculture's vital role in our society. Farm Credit East is proud to work with the region’s farmers, foresters and commercial fishermen every day and pleased to celebrate their efforts on National Ag Day. 

The theme of this year’s National Ag Day is Growing a Climate for Tomorrow. Agricultural producers have long been stewards of the land. In fact, last year we highlighted some of their efforts in our first annual sustainability report. View it here. 

To further highlight the vital work of our region’s producers, we analyzed the recently released results of the 2022 Census of Agriculture. After roughly a year of review and analysis by the USDA, the 2022 Census results  are  a comprehensive source of information on agriculture across the country, including the Northeast. Following are a few noteworthy trends we identified.

While Number of Farms Declined, Sales Volume Increased

Overall, across the eight states served by Farm Credit East (CT, ME, MA, NH, NJ, NY, RI and VT), the number of farms has declined over the last few censuses, although there is some variation among individual states.

For example, from 2017 to 2022, Connecticut, Maine and New York lost about 7% of their farms; Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont showed smaller declines; and Rhode Island and New Jersey remained relatively stable. 

Bar graph showing number of Northeast farms from 1997 through 2022.

If we drill deeper into the number of farms by sales category, we can see fairly significant differences by size of farm. By far, the greatest declines were seen in very small farms — those with less than $2,500 in sales per year. This category of farms declined from 28,192 in 2017 to 24,601 in 2022, and accounted for most of the decline in number of farms shown in figure 1. 

Other sales categories were more stable with some increasing, such as farms with sales from $10,000-$49,999 and those with sales of $500,000 or more. Additionally, the aggregate volume of sales has increased, as shown in figure 2.

Bar graph showing increase in Northeast farm sales from 1997 through 2022.

Most Northeast States Show an Increase in New Producers

In the Northeast, seven of the eight states we serve showed increases in “new producers” (defined as those having less than 10 years experience in agriculture). The number of farms with a new producer increased from 23,659 in 2017 to 25,033 in 2022. 

Just as interesting is the background of some of these new producers. Notably, they are not necessarily “young” – many are moving into agriculture as a second career. In fact, the average age of a new producer increased from 46.1 years of age in 2017 to 47.7 years of age in 2022.

The ethnic diversity of Northeast agriculture also increased, according to the Census. While the majority of Northeast farms are led by non-Hispanic white farmers, the total number of farms with a non-white or Hispanic producer increased from 3,550 to 3,869 overall. Demographic categories showing increases among Native American, Asian and Hispanic farmers. 

These are just a few of the trends observed in the most recent Census of Agriculture. Stay tuned for more insights as we continue to dig into the numbers! 

What does this early data tell us?

The future of Northeast agriculture is bright. While there is some decline in the overall number of farms, many farms are experiencing growth and increased sales. That, coupled with an increase in entrants into the industry are all signs Northeast agriculture is thriving. 

It’s appropriate that on the first day of spring we salute farmers in the Northeast and across the nation as we celebrate National Agriculture Day.   


Tags: ag expenses, saluting northeast ag

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