Vilsack: 2022 Census of Agriculture a ‘Wake-Up Call’

The USDA released the 2022 Census of Agriculture this week. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says some of the results were concerning, especially the number of farms and total amount of farmland across America.

“In 2017, when we did the survey, there were 2,042,220 farms. Today the survey reports we have 1,900,487 farms. So doing a little quick math, that’s 142,000 fewer farms in five years. The survey tells us that in 2017, we had a little over 900 million acres of land in farming. Five years later, we have 880 million acres, so we’ve lost 20 million acres.”

He put the number of acres into perspective.

“That’s every New England state with the exception of Connecticut in five years. I want to give you a sense of how many farms that is. I’ve been focusing on this issue for the last four or five months because I ran across a report done by Secretary of Agriculture Bob Bergland In 1981. He was expressing concern about the direction of agriculture because we had changed the method of support, a direction of support, for American agriculture. Well, if you look at the number of farms that were in existence when he issued that warning and compare it to today, we’ve lost 535,000 Farms. Now that’s every farm today in the following states: in North Dakota and South Dakota, in Minnesota and Wisconsin, in Illinois and Iowa, in Nebraska and Oklahoma, and Missouri and Colorado.”

Vilsack says the 2022 Census of Ag is a wake-up call.

“This survey is essentially asking the critical question of whether as a country are we okay with losing that many farms? Are we okay with losing that much farmland or is there a better way? That’s the importance of this survey. It allows us to take a snapshot in time, allows us to compare what has occurred over the five-year period, and begin to ask ourselves questions about the policy formation and the direction that we need to take in order to correct or deal with some of the challenges that the data presents.”