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Arkansas Census Recap

By: Michael Klamm


2022 Census of Agriculture data is released providing an extensive overview of Arkansas farms and ranches.


I want to begin by thanking the producers across Arkansas who took time out of their busy schedules to fill out their 2022 Census of Agriculture questionnaire. Without our producers’ cooperation, this extensive data set would not be available. The Census of Agriculture provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive, and impartial agriculture data for every state and county in the nation. Through the Ag Census, producers can show the nation the value and importance of U.S. agriculture and influence decisions that will shape the future of their industries. The first Census was conducted in 1840 with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) acquiring the Census from the U.S. Department of Commerce in 1997. The Agriculture Census is conducted every 5 years.


In 2022, Arkansas had 37,756 farms, down 11 percent from the 42,625 farms in 2017. Of those farms, 17,949 farms had cattle sales in 2022, down 16 percent from 2017. That is a loss of 3,411 farms with cattle sales in a five-year span. In 2022, 47.5 percent of Arkansas farms had cattle sales compared to 50.1 percent in 2017. There was an additional 2,975 farms that reported cattle inventory on December 31, 2022 but had 0 cattle sales in 2022.


Arkansas land in farms equaled 13.7 million acres in 2022, down 166,404 acres from five years ago. All farms had $13.9 billion in market value of ag products sold, up 44 percent from 2017. Cattle and calves sold for $687 million, down 7 percent from five years ago. Farm production expenses increased 33 percent in the same period.


Ninety-five percent of all Arkansas farms are family farms, with family farms operating 83 percent of the land. The average age of the Arkansas producer was 57.6 years old up from 57 years old in 2017, with 13 percent of producers over the age of 75 years old and 9 percent under the age of 35 years old. New and beginning producers (those with 10 years or less experience) was 32 percent of all producers compared to 29 percent in 2017. Arkansas saw 60.5 percent of all producers also holding off-farm jobs.


Of the farms that receive their highest percent of sales from beef cattle ranching and farming, there were 17,755 farms operating 4.34 million acres, which is an average of 244 acres per farm. These farms had a total of $642 million in agricultural products sold, averaging $36,198 per farm. The average beef cattle farm lost $3,357 in 2022. One-third of cattle farms showed a net gain, with an average profit of $26,767. The other two-thirds of operations averaged a net loss of $18,545.


Thirty-nine percent of cattle producers were female with 42 percent of cattle producers stating that farming was their primary occupation. The average age of the cattle producer was 58.4 years old, nearly a year older than the average age of all producers. Ninety-seven percent of beef cattle ranches were family farms, which is also higher than the state average of 95 percent. Of the 17,755 beef cattle farms, 8,717 farms reported cutting hay in 2022.


The 2022 Census of Agriculture also provides details at the county level. All 75 Arkansas Counties had operations with cattle sales. Washington County was the largest in the state in both the number of operations with cattle sales and total cattle sales, with the number of operations at 1,094 farms and total cattle sales at $38.4 million. Benton was the second largest cattle county with 982 farms and $35.9 million in sales. White County tied with Boone County for the third largest number of farms at 678, however, ranked 11th in cattle sales ($19.1 million) and Boone ranked eighth ($25.9 million). Faulkner County rounded your top 5 largest number of farms with 623 but ranked 12th in sales ($16.4 million). Franklin County ranked third in sales at $33.9 million but 12th in number of farms (436). Carrol County ranked fourth in sales, $32.7 million, and sixth in the number of farms (615). The fifth-largest county was Fulton County with $30.0 million and 11th in the number of farms at 460. Monroe and Desha counties tied for the fewest farms with six each.


Quickly turning our attention to the dairy side, there were 75 farms that had at least one milk cow on December 31, 2022, with 56 percent having less than 10 milk cows. The total milk sales was $16.8 million with 95 percent of the sales coming from the 25 farms that had 50 or more milk cows.


You can find the full 2022 Census of Agriculture report on our website along with additional information from our other programs at www.nass.usda.gov. If you have any questions about the Census of Agriculture or NASS in general please send an email to michael.klamm@usda.gov.


Note from the ACA: While these numbers are staggering and can be stressful to view, it is important for producers, of all kinds, to know the status of the industry. It is also imperative to note that cattle producers are incredibly resilient, efficient, and sustainable. We are producing more beef for consumers with fewer cattle and fewer acres than we were 60 years ago.

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