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View from the Cab: Examining the census

By Kent Casson

We are getting a closer look at America’s farms and ranches and the people who operate them thanks to the recent 2022 Census of Agriculture results which were announced by the USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service.


More than 71,000 farms and ranches covered Illinois in 2022 which is down two percent from five years ago. The average farm size was 370 acres, down 2 acres from the previous 2017 Census of Agriculture report. Illinois remained the top state for soybeans, horseradish and pumpkin acres with more than 33,000 farms growing soybeans in Illinois during 2022.


More than 68 percent of 650 farms growing pumpkins in Illinois were harvested for processing and 50 Illinois farms grew in excess of 2,000 acres of horseradish in 2022. Our state was number two in corn acres, third in total crop sales and fourth in hog inventory.


Illinois farms and ranches produced $26.4 billion in agricultural products, up 55 percent from the $17 billion that was produced in 2017. Farm production expenses totaled $17.8 billion, up 33 percent from 2017. The top five counties by total farm sales were Iroquois, McLean, Livingston, LaSalle and Champaign. The top five counties by average sales per farm are Gallatin, Lawrence, Logan, DeKalb and Piatt.


In terms of demographics, the average age of all Illinois producers was 58.6, which is up from 58 in 2017. Of all Illinois producers, 33,927, or 28 percent, were female. The number of farmers under the age of 35 was 10,632 which was 8.8 percent of all Illinois producers. Cover crop acres totaled 881,228 in 2022 and that is up 24 percent from 2017.


Despite an acreage decrease, farmers, except for those in the west, fared well throughout the state in the latest Census of Agriculture. This is according to Mark Schleusener, the Illinois State Statistician with the USDA National Ag Statistics Service.



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