Number of U.S. Farms Fell to Six-Year Low in 2012, USDA Says

The number of farms in the U.S., the world’s biggest agriculture exporter, fell 0.5 percent in 2012 to the lowest since 2006, the government said.

Farm operations dropped to 2.17 million, compared with 2.18 million in 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a report on its website. The amount of land in use for cultivation or livestock production declined to 914 million acres from 917 million in 2011, while the average farm size increased to 421 acres from 420.

The total number of cattle operations slumped to 915,000 from 922,000 in 2011, the USDA said. Beef-cow producers totaled 729,000, down from 734,000. The U.S. cattle herd, including beef and dairy animals, totaled 89.3 million head as of Jan. 1, the fewest since 1952, USDA data show. Hog and pig operations were 68,300, down from 69,100.

Net farm income totaled $112.8 billion in 2012, the USDA said last week, and the government has forecast a 14 percent climb this year to a record $128.2 billion.

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