The preliminary data from the USDA’s 2012 Census of Agriculture shows that Virginia is experiencing the same trends that are common to American agriculture as a whole.
- The number of farms in Virginia has decreased
- The average farm size has increased
- The average age of the principal farm operator has increased
- Farm production and the market value of farm products has increased
These are the same trends seen nationwide, that have been ongoing now for decades.
With each passing year there are fewer farms, as more and more farms are consolidated into larger and larger “operations.” Likewise with each passing year the average age of farmers increases, as cultural forces and prohibitive start-up costs drive young people away from farming.
The industrial megafarms that remain grow increasingly profitable. Last year farm profits hit their highest level in nearly 50 years.
As I’ve said many times before on this blog, we are seeing a dangerous concentration of our food system into a handful of multinational corporations and a small number of very large industrial farming operations.
It is easy to find food that is cheap.
The survival of small sustainably-operated family farms like ours depends upon people making the effort to choose, and pay for, food that is nutritious and ethically-produced.