Archive for Friday, May 2, 2014

Local farm economy growing, consolidating, ag census shows

May 2, 2014

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Nearly 10,000 acres of farmland were taken out of production in Douglas County from 2007 to 2012, but the farms that remained generated more profit, according to the latest Census of Agriculture released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In 2012, there were 945 farms on 210,676 acres in Douglas County. That was down from 1,040 farms operating on 220,636 acres in 2007.

But those farms generated $43.9 million in sales of agricultural products, an increase of 6.3 percent from 2007.

Net farm income in 2012 — the difference between sales and expenses — grew 7 percent to $10.7 million, or an average of $11,315 per farm, the report showed.

USDA conducts a Census of Agriculture every five years in conjunction with the population census. The first agriculture census was conducted in 1840.

The overall numbers for Douglas County were consistent with trends statewide, which show growth in the volume of sales and net income from fewer, but larger, farming operations. More than half of the total sales, 54 percent, came from crop production, including nursery and greenhouse crops.

Douglas County is a relatively small player in the overall Kansas agricultural economy. But it is a major player in one sector of the industry, organic agriculture, where it ranks third among the 105 counties in Kansas.

Over the five-year period, income from the sale of organic products grown in Douglas County more than tripled, from $99,000 to $320,000. The number of farms generating more than $5,000 in sales of organic products grew from four to 11.

Stanton and Mitchell counties were the top two counties for organic farm production.

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