The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) has unveiled the findings of the 2022 Census of Agriculture, presenting a trove of information comprising over 6 million data points concerning America’s farms and ranches, delineating details down to the county level.

Decrease in Montana Farms

The data reveals a decline in the total number of farms in Montana. However, amidst this reduction, there's a notable increase in the presence of new and young producers in the state, reflecting an encouraging trend for the future of agriculture in Montana.

Key Insights from the Census Data

Demographics and Economics

  • Montana witnessed a decrease of 10.3% in the number of farms and ranches compared to 2017, totaling 24,266 establishments, encompassing 57.6 million acres.
  • Family-owned and operated farms dominate the agricultural scene in Montana, constituting 92.8% of all farms and managing 80% of the land.
  • Despite the decline in the number of farms, the total value of agricultural products increased to $4.54 billion, with the majority of sales generated from crop production.
  • The average farm income rose to $46,889, indicating a positive economic trend for Montana's agricultural sector.

Technological Advancements

  • Montana farms are increasingly adopting modern technologies, with 83.6% having internet access, albeit slightly lower than the national average.
  • Renewable energy adoption is also rising, with 2,544 farms utilizing renewable energy systems, primarily through solar panels.

Sales and Marketing Trends

  • Direct-to-consumer sales saw a modest increase, with 931 farms in Montana generating $15.7 million in sales.
  • Large-scale operations, represented by farms with sales of $1 million or more, accounted for 4.5% of Montana farms but contributed significantly to the total sales and government payments.

Producer Demographics

  • The average age of producers in Montana is 59.3 years, indicating an aging workforce within the agricultural sector.
  • However, there's a notable influx of new entrants, with 11,724 farmers having ten or fewer years of experience, marking a 7% increase from 2017.
  • Young producers under the age of 35 constitute 8% of all producers in Montana, showcasing a promising demographic shift.

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