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Ag census reveals drop in New Mexico farm income

Net farm income in New Mexico has dropped for farms and ranch operations across the state by as much as 45 percent over the last five years.

United States Department of Agriculture officials released the 2012 Agriculture Census report last week (May 2) that indicates net farm income in New Mexico has dropped for farms and ranch operations across the state by as much as 45 percent over the last five years.

But the report also indicated a greater number of census forms completed and returned in 2012 Census, especially by smaller family farms. In fact, the latest census report indicates nearly 98 percent of the state's farms and ranches are family owned.

New Mexico Department of Agriculture officials say many small farms across the state have diversified since the onset of the current drought cycle. New Mexico and the larger Southwest are facing a fourth consecutive year of abnormally dry growing seasons. Many small farms have turned to specialty crops and in many cases into greenhouse operations as a result. 


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According to the new report, New Mexico is not the only area where the number of farms and net farm income has declined. The overall number of farms nationwide dropped since the 2007 Census from about 2.2 million farms to 2.1 million in 2012, a 4.3 percent reduction in farming operations. For the purpose of the Ag Census, USDA-NASS considers ranch and all livestock operations as a farm.



In similar manner, the total number of farm acres nationwide declined over the same five year period, from about 922,000 acres in 2007 to 914,000 in 2012. But the average individual farm size jumped slightly, from 418 acres per farm to 434 acres per farm in the latest Census.

While the number of large farms and small farms remained about the same nationwide since the 2007 Census, the number of middle-sized farms declined over the last five-year period.

National numbers

Other relevant nationwide census results include:

  • In 2012, the market values of crops, livestock, and total agricultural products were each record highs.
  • U.S. farms sold nearly $395 billion in agricultural products in 2012. This was 33 percent – $97.4 billion – more than agricultural sales in 2007.
  • Crop sales were $68.7 billion more in 2012 than 2007 (a 48 percent increase) and livestock sales were up $28.6 billion (a 19 percent increase).
  • In 2012, crop sales exceeded livestock sales (Fig. 3) for only the second time in Census history; the other time was in 1974.
  • Per farm agricultural sales averaged $187,000 in 2012. This was an increase of more than $52,000 (or 39 percent) over 2007.
  • From 2007 to 2012, the percent of farms with sales and government payments of $1 million or more increased, but most farms in the United States are small – 75 percent had sales of less than $50,000 in 2012.

Across the Southwest by State:


According to the 2012 Agriculture Census report, Texas has 248,809 farms (crop and livestock production) with 130,163,438 total acres dedicated to agriculture. The average size of a farm in Texas is 623 acres. The majority of farms in Texas ranged in size from 10 to 179 acres. An estimated 4.5 million acres in the state within the state are irrigated.

New Mexico

The latest census data indicate New Mexico has a total of 24,721 farms and 43,201,023 total acres dedicated to agricultural production, with the average farm being 1,748 acres in size. Surprisingly, nearly 30 percent of all farm operations in New Mexico are less than 10 acres in size. An additional 30 percent are larger than 180 acres. The Census indicates a total of 680,318 irrigated acres in the state.


For Oklahoma, the latest Census report indicates 80,245 farms in Oklahoma (crop and livestock operations) with a combined total of 34,356,110 acres dedicated to agricultural operations. The average size of a farm in Oklahoma is 428 acres. The largest percentage of farms in the state ranges between 50 and 179 acres. The Census report lists 479,750 irrigated acres in the state.

For more detailed information about the results of the USDA-NASS 2012 Census, connect here.




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