Hutchinson A five-year agriculture census finds that the number of Kansas farms rose for the first time since World War II.
The 2007 Department of Agriculture census released Wednesday says Kansas is seeing more small farms and a growth of its biggest operations, but fewer middle-sized farms. Donn Teske of the Kansas Farmers Union said the drop in mid-sized farms follows a recent trend.
“It’s concerning, very much so,” Teske said.
The census, required by law, tallies all aspects of farming, including the number, size and value of farms, as well as the age and gender of operators and the kinds of livestock and crops raised.
Since the 2002 agriculture census, Kansas has 65,531 farms, up 1,117 farms, or about 1.7 percent. Nationally, farm numbers are up 4 percent.
More people are moving from bigger cities to small parcels of land where they are raising small herds of livestock and acres of crops, said Carol House, deputy administer for programs and product at the National Agricultural Statistics Service. There is also evidence of more hobby farming.
The number of farms valued at $500,000 or more increased by 2,201 from 2002 to 2007.
But the number of Kansas farms with values between $2,500 and $100,000 declined.
Teske said while the mid-sized farm is disappearing, large farmers are getting larger with fewer operators.
“This shows where the trend is going to continue, that, over the stretch, we’ll see a mass concentration of everything,” Teske said. “For an organization, and myself, who wants to see competition in a lot of different markets, the current economic downturn is going to speed up concentration, I’m afraid.”