March 5, 1999 | By: Mark Eclov

Every five years the US government takes a statistical "picture" of the American farm industry.

"The farm census is a complete accounting of the United States agricultural production and it is the only source of uniform and comprehensive data for every county in the U.S.," said Larry Jones, Extension Economist in the UK College of Agriculture.

"The latest census figures showed a continuation of national and state trends in farm numbers that have been underway for many decades," said Jones.

In Kentucky, the total number of farms fell to a little over 82,000. That was a decline of about nine percent for the five-year period.

The number of big farms in the state, defined as having sales exceeding $100,000 or more, grew by more than 6.5 percent during the last five-year census period.

"While big farms comprise less than seven percent of the total farms in Kentucky, they sell the majority of food and fiber commodities in the state," said Jones.

Medium sized farms, defined as having sales between $10,000 and $100,000, suffered the most dramatic declines in Kentucky with a drop of 14 percent.

"Mid-sized farms are increasingly being forced to either get bigger and become full-time operations or get smaller and rely more heavily on off-farm income as a major source of family income, " explained Jones.

Small farms, defined as operations with total sales of less than $10,000 per year, declined about 7.5 percent.

Total acres operated by Kentucky farms was also down, but the declines were less than 2.5 percent.

When farms were broken down by the types of commodities they produce, the decline in numbers was greatest for those operations primarily focused on swine, dairy or tobacco farms. While the total number of farms in Kentucky fell during the five-year period, their cash receipts increased from $3.2 billion dollars to $3.85 billion.



Writer: Mark Eclov
(606) 257-7223

Source: Larry Jones
(606) 257-7289