U.S. Ag Census shows growth for Kentucky ag products
By Madison Pergrem, KY Department of Agriculture

Posted on February 22, 2024 10:11 AM


With 69,425 farms dotting Kentucky’s landscape and more than 12.4 million of the state’s 25 million acres dedicated to some form of farming, it’s evident Kentucky’s roots are still very much agricultural. These numbers were just some of the statistics that came out of the recently released 2022 Census of Agriculture.

“It’s no surprise agriculture is still very much a part of what makes Kentucky so special,” Agriculture Commissioner Jonathan Shell said. “The numbers released by the Census solidifies Kentucky’s agricultural hold. We know agriculture is a large part of our history, but these numbers show it is also moving our future forward.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducts the Census of Agriculture every five years. The latest census data, which was collected in 2022, was released last week. The Census is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. The Census looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income, and expenditures. Using more than 6 million data points about America’s farms and ranches and the people who operate them, information is gathered and calculating for every state down to the county level.

The data released for Kentucky shows a large growth in agricultural production at $8 billion, up nearly 40 percent from 2017 figuresThe market value of livestock and poultry sold in 2022 was $4.2 billion, and the market value of crops sold was nearly $3.8 billion. Net cash farm income in 2022 was $2.4 billion, a 56 percent increase over 2017.

During 2022, the year data was collected for the Census, farmers were still dealing with the issues created by the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic, including supply chain issues and financial struggles. Farmers in Western Kentucky were also dealing with the aftermath of two tornadoes, while farmers in Eastern Kentucky were cleaning up from historic floods. Poultry farmers were also focused on the Avian Influenza strain that wiped out several commercial and backyard flocks across the state.

“These factors combined to create economic hardships for those across the state, including our agriculture community,” Commissioner Shell said. “Despite these setbacks, the strength and essential nature of agriculture shines through with the reported Census numbers. The resiliency of farmers across our state and nation provide a stability we all rely on.”

The market value of specific agricultural commodities sold in 2022 included:


·        Poultry and eggs – $1.79 billion, up 36 percent from 2017

·        Corn – $1.46 billion, up 76 percent

·        Soybeans – $1.38 billion, up 48 percent

·        Cattle – $1.08 billion, up 8 percent

·        Equine - $736 million, up 58 percent

·        Wheat – $262 million, up 133 percent

·        Milk – $233 million, up 40 percent

·        Tobacco – $225 million, down 36 percent

·        Hogs and pigs – $207 million, up 61 percent

The value of crops sold in 2022 does not necessarily represent the sales from crops harvested in 2022. NASS explained data may include sales from crops produced in earlier years and may exclude some crops produced in 2022 but held in storage and not sold.

The market value of equine sold in 2022 was nearly $763 million, an increase of 58 percent from 2017.

Income from farm-related sources totaled $466 million in 2022, an increase of 11 percent from 2017. Total income from farm-related sources includes cash rent; crop and livestock insurance payments; custom work such as planting, plowing, and spraying; tobacco quota buyouts; agritourism; and sales of forest products.

Government payments to farmers in 2022 totaled $90 million, a decrease of 41 percent.

The Census also revealed trends common for agricultural across the country are following suit in Kentucky, including:

·        A decrease in the number of farms. In 2022, Kentucky had 69,425 farms, compared to 75,966 that were counted in the 2017 Census, a difference of 8.6 percent.

·        The amount of Kentucky acreage used in agricultural pursuits also declined slightly, from 13 million in 2017 to 12.4 million in 2022.

·        The average age of producers also rose slightly in the 2022 Census, up from 56.2 years of age in 2017 to 57.1 years of age in 2022.

·        The average size of a farm in Kentucky increased by 4.7 percent, from 171 in 2017 to 179 in 2022.

·        The top 5 counties in Kentucky for the number of farms were: Barren County (1,621); Pulaski County (1,600); Warren County (1,530); Shelby County (1,350); and Grayson County (1,283).


Copyright © The Logan Journal