Rep. Maddox receives agriculture census report

Published 7:13 am Tuesday, February 17, 2009

State Rep. Gene Maddox of Cairo was among the first in the state to review the Georgia Census of Agriculture released Wednesday by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA NASS).

Terry Coleman, deputy agriculture commissioner moderated the release of the Georgia census information to elected officials, agri-business executives and state agriculture leaders who came to Atlanta to be the first to review the data.

The census shows that agriculture continues to be the state’s leading industry, producing $7.1 billion in annual sales.

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Georgia continues to lead the nation in the production of poultry and eggs, peanuts and pecans. Additionally, the state now has more than 135 organic farms producing more than $2 million in sales, the census report shows.

The census also shows that Colquitt and Mitchell counties are the second and third leading counties in agriculture sales in the state. They rank behind are Franklin County (in north Georgia), the center of the egg and poultry industry in the state.

Agri-tourism has tripled in size since the last agriculture census in 2002, the report shows.

Georgia agri-tourism farms are now earning $14.65 million in agri-tourism revenue. The average agri-tourism facility earns $24,342 annually.

Key findings

Farm numbers• 2007 Census of Agriculture farm numbers in the United States totaled 2,204,792, a 4 percent increase from 2002.

• In Georgia, there were 47,846 farms in 2007, a 3 percent decrease or loss of 1,465 farms since 2002.

• The average Georgia farm size in 2007 was 212 acres compared to 218 acres in 2002 and 228 in 1997.

• Land in farms in Georgia during the five-year period decreased 5.5 percent to 10,150,539 acres in 2007. Cropland acres in 2007 dropped to 4.5 million acres.

• Irrigated cropland acres in Georgia increased 16.9 percent in the past five years to 1,017,773 acres.

• Organic farms in Georgia in 2007 totaled 136 farms with sales totaling over $2.0 million dollars.

Economic• Market value of land and buildings in Georgia for 2007 was $3,117 per acre compared to $2,112 in 2002.

• In 2007, Georgia farms sold $7.1 billion in agricultural products compared to $4.9 billion in 2002. Poultry and eggs were the leading commodity sold with 59.7 percent of all sales.

• In 2007, 2,412 Georgia farms produced 75 percent of all agricultural products sold, down from 2,773 farms five years ago.

• The net cash farm income of operators in 2007 was $1.57 billion, an increase of 14 percent, from 2002. However, the percent of Georgia farm operations reporting net losses was 63.4 percent, up 2 percent from 2002.

• Total farm expenditures in 2007 were 56 percent higher than in 2002.

• Products marketed directly to individuals in 2007 totaled $13.1 million in sales from 1,890 Georgia farms. This is a 46.2 percent increase from $ 8.96 million in 2002.

• Agri-tourism income reported by Georgia farms totaled $14.65 million and provided an average income of $24,342 on 602 farms.

• Forest product sales, as a Georgia farm related income source, totaled $53.6 million in 2007 (2,043 farms) compared to $34.3 million in 2002.

Demographics• In Georgia, the number of principal farm operators increased for all races and ethnic groups represented in the census, except Spanish, Hispanic or Latino origin operators. Most significantly, the number of farms operated by Asian operators increased from 79 to 235 and women principal operators rose 17 percent from 2002 to 7,532 farms. The increase in black operators was 4.2 percent in 2007, totaling 2,072 farms.

• The average age of the U.S. farmer was 57.8 in 2007 compared to 55 in 2002. Principal farm operators over 65 years old accounted for 31 percent of the total.

• Principal operators reporting primary occupation other than farming in Georgia was 58 percent, up 9 percentage points since 2002.

• Principal operators reporting some days worked off-the-farm was 63 percent compared to 54 percent in 2002.

• The number of farms with Internet access increased to 53 percent in 2007. High-speed Internet access was reported on 36 percent of Georgia operations.