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The U.S. Has More Female Farmers Than Ever

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Corn and soybeans grow on a farm near Tipton, Iowa.

In the last Census of Agriculture, the average American farmer was white, male, and nearing his sixties. This year’s Census, released on Thursday, gives us an updated image, which is still very white, but represents more women farmers than ever before.

Some trends are familiar: Consolidation continues as medium-sized farms shrink and large-scale operations grow ever larger. Others reflect demographic change (as well as updated data collection techniques): Not only are there significantly more female farmers in general, there are more women at the helm of their operations.

The data comes from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, which conducts the census every five years. This round, which reflects the year 2017, has collected information from the country’s 2.04 million farms and ranches. Here are Pacific Standard’s key takeaways.

The Future Is Female Farmers

Over the last five years, the number of male farmers fell, while the number of women rose: Female producers now make up 36 percent of farmers, a 27 percent increase from 2012. Now, 56 percent of farms have at least one female producer, although only 38 percent have a female primary producer, the person who makes the most decisions on the farm.

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