Census of Agricultural Highlights New York State, 2012
Bills, Nelson L.; Stanton, Bernard F.
The Census of Agriculture provides a continuing historical record of what has happened on New York State farms and its wider rural economy. The purpose of this report is to provide readily accessible information on basic historical facts about agriculture in New York State such as land in farms, numbers of farms, acreage of major crops and numbers of livestock for census years dating back to 1997. Census results for 2012 show that 24 percent (7.2 million acres) of the State’s land area was in farms. This acreage is roughly equal to the land in farms reported in the early1990s but far below the peak acreage in the early 1900s. Much of the land formerly in farms has reverted to forest or brush. Total cropland in 2012 was 4.22 million acres of which 89 percent was harvested. Some of these results trace to data adjustments first made in conjunction with the 2002 and 2007 census tabulations. These adjustments accounted for under enumeration and helped boost harvested cropland acreage above levels reported in the late 1980s. New York is among 22 states with net farm decreases between 2002 and 2012. This information must be interpreted with care because of important structural changes in acquisition, management, and reporting of census data in the last decade. Current census procedures involve USDA determinations on potential crop/ livestock commodity sales, along with the practice of counting participants in federal conservation programs as farms, if federal payments are sufficient to meet the $1,000 threshold required to qualify such a unit as a farm. In 2012, upwards of 8,000 New York farms (22% of all farms) had commodity sales below $1,000 during the census year.