The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.
South Dakota is growing to be quite an agricultural powerhouse, as the most recent Census of Agriculture results showed. In 2012, the year for which the latest Census was conducted, our farmers and ranchers sold more than $10 billion worth of agricultural products. That’s an incredible 55 percent increase from 2007 Census of Agriculture.
Our farms are also defying a downward national trend. While the number of farms is decreasing in most states, in South Dakota, our farm numbers actually grew by 3 percent between the 2007 and 2012 censuses of agriculture. As of 2012, there are nearly 32,000 farms in The Mount Rushmore State.
Being a true Midwestern state, our farmers tend to focus on major field crops, like corn, soybeans, and wheat. More than 5 million acres of our farmland were planted to corn in 2012, giving us the sixth largest corn acreage among all states. Both soybeans and wheat covered 4.7 million and 2.2 million acres of farmland respectively. South Dakota ended up among the top 10 states in acreage for both of these important commodities.
South Dakota’s small grains industry does very well and 2012 was no exception. That year, for example, our growers produced more than 4.5 million bushels of oats, ranking us fourth in the nation when it comes to this grain. We also do really well in production of other small grains, like sorghum and rye. In 2012, our growers produced 5.8 million and 263,000 bushels of these two crops respectively, placing South Dakota in the top 10 states for production of both.
Our livestock sector is also very strong with both cattle inventory and sales ranking among the top 10 states in the nation. The Census counted almost 3.9 million head of cattle and calves in South Dakota, which generated nearly $3 billion dollars in sales. The Census also showed that our farmers are introducing new practices into their businesses. For example, 847 of our farms sold value-added commodities, including breads, cheeses, and preserves. In 2012, we also had 703 farms producing on-farm renewable energy.
These new ventures are only the beginning for innovations on South Dakota farms. Every year seems to bring something new, which is why I can’t wait to see what the future holds. The 2017 Census of Agriculture will soon give us information on new trends.