Wisconsin Sees Five Year Decline In Number of Farms, Acres Of Farmland

Wisconsin farm
The number of farms in Wisconsin has dropped 12 percent in the last five years, from around 78,000 to 69,000. Photo: Jarrod Erbe (CC-BY-NC-SA)

Over the last five years Wisconsin has lost farms and farmland, according to a preliminary report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The data comes from the USDA’s Census of Agriculture, which is conducted every five years. It shows that from 2007 to 2012, Wisconsin lost more than 8,700 farms. Farmland also declined by more than 620,000 acres.

Greg Bussler is a Wisconsin statistician with the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. He says these are preliminary numbers only, and that they will know where exacly these declines are occuring and what kind of farmland is lost later this year.

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“Before people get too excited about some of these numbers,” Bussler said, “we need to look at the May data to fully understand what’s going on and the exact impact of everything.”

Bussler says an economic breakdown of farms shows that the number of those making less than $250,000 decreased by 20 percent in Wisconsin. Farms making more than $250,000 saw an increase.

Katy Phillips is with the Wisconsin Farmers Union. She says they’re not surprised by the numbers.

“It’s been a trend that’s been happening for many years, and previous to 2007, as well, and it concerns us deeply,” she said. “It’s really one of the reasons why our organization exists. Wisconsin Farmers Union’s mission is to do everything we can to preserve small family farms and rural communities, so this is very distressing.”

In 2012, the last year included in the report, Wisconsin had more than 69,000 farms, compared to 78,000 in 2007.

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