Wyoming agriculture: Growing opportunities

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Beef cattle farms and ranches, at 38%, ranked first amongst all types of farms in Wyoming. Horse and pony farms, at 19%, ranked third. Photo courtesy: Donny Marincic, Wyoming Stock Growers Association. In May 2014, abundant snow and rain turned Wyoming pastures and crops green. In the same month, the 2012 Census of Agriculture showed that farmers and ranchers grew their opportunities from 2007 to 2012.

Wyoming is one of only 10 states that increased both the number of farms and ranches, up 6.1 percent, as well as the amount of land they operate, up 0.6 percent, between 2007 and 2012. Once again, Wyoming farmers and ranchers operated the largest farms and ranches in the U.S. with an average of 2,587 acres per farm compared with the U.S. average of 434 acres. Not only did the total number of farmers and ranchers increase, but the number of young farmers and ranchers increased, too. The number of Wyoming farmers and ranchers under the age of 35 increased by 17.4 from 2007-2012.

Along with new farmers and ranchers, came new technologies. As many farmers and ranchers continued the widespread use of windmills to provide water, 147 Wyoming farmers used wind turbines to generate electricity, too. Another 647 farmers used solar panels to generate energy. In addition, 76.4 percent of Wyoming farmers and ranchers had high-speed internet access, ranking Wyoming 15th among all states and well above the U.S. average of 69.6 percent.

click image to zoomWyoming agriculture is growing big, like the size of their average farm. Check back next Thursday for the next state spotlight from the 2012 Census of Agriculture and the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Of the 3,144 counties in the United States, several Wyoming counties ranked in the top 10, including:

- 2nd – Johnson County elk inventory

- 9th – Fremont County horse and pony inventory

- 10th – Fremont County hay and forage acres

- 10th – Converse County sheep and lamb inventory

- 10th – Laramie County sheep, goats, and their products sales

More interesting Wyoming agricultural facts from the 2012 Census of Agriculture include:

  • The market value of all crops sold totaled $439 million, more than double 2007 and the largest increase of any state. Wyoming barley acres ranked 7th among all states.
  • Wyoming sheep inventory ranked 4th in the nation.
  • The market value of all livestock and their products totaled $1.25 billion. Goshen County beef cattle inventory ranked 1st among all Wyoming counties.

I would like to thank all Wyoming farmers and ranchers who reported their individual information. The Census of Agriculture tells their story. It shows how they created and took advantage of opportunities over the last five years.

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