Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Support Local Farmers: Virginia Ag Census Data Reveals Overall Drop In Producers, With Increasing Numbers Of Hispanic Farmers


Virginia Ag Census Data Reveals Overall Drop In Producers, With Increasing Numbers Of Hispanic Farmers

Virginia Farm Bureau

Tue, Mar 26, 2024

RICHMOND—Though the overall number of agricultural producers in Virginia has dropped in recent years, Latino and Hispanic farmers represent a growing demographic in statewide agriculture.

Industry leaders and policymakers are paying attention to preliminary data recently released from the 
National Agricultural Statistics Service’s 2022 Census of Agriculture, which provides a comprehensive picture of agriculture every five years. The overall number of Virginia farm producers dropped from 70,594 in the 2017 census to 67,798 in 2022. However, producers of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin rose to 1,026 from 845 in 2017. Many in that population are farming in Loudoun and Fauquier counties.

Tia Earman, 
Loudoun County Farm Bureau president, said she has noticed the steady growth of a younger and more diverse farming community overall since the 2017 census, and the county Farm Bureau Young Farmers committee is very active. "The face of our agriculture is changing,” she said. And so is the Washington-adjacent landscape.

"We don’t have a lot of 300-acre cow farms left,” Earman continued. "But we have really intensive vegetable farming happening on small acreage that is direct-marketed to consumers.” She noted Loudoun added 73 farms since the last agriculture census and now has 805 farms between 10 to 49 acres. "We have proximity to a stable, direct market who can afford to go to farmers markets and pay higher prices to purchase local food that supports local farmers,” Earman said.

Black farmers in Virginia number 1,603, down by 90 since 2017. Halifax County has the most Black farmers, with 147 counted by the census.

Female farmers in Virginia number 25,237. Rockingham and Loudoun counties are home to the highest numbers of female operators.

Farming is the primary occupation for 27,471 producers. And 40,327 farmers hold other jobs as primary occupations.

New and beginning producers account for 20,378 of all farmers. They are operating almost 13,000 farms on 1.7 million acres. The largest number of beginning farmers are in Rockingham and Loudoun counties.

The average age of producers crept up from 58.5 to 59.2 years old. Young producers ages 34 and younger total 5,139 farmers. Rockingham County is home to the largest number, with 390 young farmers.

Farmers ages 25 to 54 make up smaller percentages than older farmers, with most of them in the 55- to 74-year-old age range.

The census identified 7,679 military veterans who are farming, with the greatest number of them operating in Loudoun County.

Rudy Arredondo   Founder/Director  
Latino Farmers & Ranchers International, Inc.

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