What Are We Learning From The Census of Agriculture?

Author: Mallory Rahe, Shannon Caplan, Benjamin Antolin, and Lauren Gwin, OSU Extension Service

Publish Date: Summer 2019

This spring, the U.S. Department of Agriculture rolled out the results from the latest Census of Agriculture, conducted in 2017. Here are some of the results for Oregon.

Oregon’s agricultural sector grew between 2012 and 2017 by adding more farms and recording higher total sales – unlike the nation

  • The number of farms increased in Oregon by a net total of 2,177. This number decreased nationally.
  • The value of farm production increased 2.5% to $5 billion (1.3% of total US production), while nationally total production declined -by 1.6% to $389 billion.

Oregon is adding more small-acreage farms and more farms with low sales

  • A higher percentage of all farms in Oregon are small-scale farms with less than 10 acres (33.3% of all Oregon farms and 13.4% of all US farms);
  • These small-acreage farms are the fastest growing farm size in the state, increasing 7.6% from 2012 (this size category increased 2.8% nationally)
  • Half of all farms in Oregon are less than 20 acres, compared to the national average of 75 acres. Oregon’s average farm size decreased to 424 acres (441 acres nationally).
  • The number of farms with sales less than $2,500 increased 19% (decreased by -3% nationally)
Farms with sales over $1 million account for the majority of agricultural sales
  • 2.5% of all farms in Oregon produced 70% of all agricultural products sold (compared to 3.9% of all farms producing 69% of all sales nationally)
  • Total sales by farms selling $1 million or more increased 4.8% in Oregon, 1.8% nationally

In the past 5 years, Oregon saw slower farm consolidation than the nation

  • The number of mid-scale farms (sales $50,000 to $499,999) decreased -1.3% (decreased -6.3% nationally)
  • Total sales by these mid-scale farms decreased by -2.2% (compared to -8.8% nationally)
  • Mid-scale farms contributed 12.4% of total sales (compared to 17.1% nationally)
Oregon’s agricultural production has been and remains more concentrated than the nation
  • 40% of all agricultural sales were generated by the 0.4 percent of Oregon farms with sales of $5 million or more (compared to 35% nationally)
  • Faster expansion of sales among large-scale farmers is closing the gap between the US and Oregon. In 2002, 54.4% of all sales came from large-scale farms (sales over $1 million) in Oregon, compared to 47.9% nationally. (Compared to 70% and 69% percent of all sales in 2017)

Land in farms declined in both Oregon and the US

  • Oregon has 339,256 fewer acres of farms than it did 5 years ago (Statewide loss of -2.1%; National decline of -1.6%)

Learn more about Oregon agriculture by the numbers on the OSU Extension website: https://extension.oregonstate.edu/food/food-systems/oregon-agriculture-n....

Special reports include:

  • Trends and Insights into Oregon Agricultural Business Succession Planning, by Christy Brekken, OSU Applied Economics
  • Oregon’s Farm Producer Demographics, by Shannon Caplan and Benjamin Antolin

Updated Community Food Systems Indicators for Or­egon, a partnership between OSU’s Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems, OSU Rural Com­munities Explorer, and the Oregon Community Food Systems Network.