The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.
Oklahoma consistently ranks in the top five states for beef cattle and winter wheat, but our agriculture is much more than just rolling fields of wheat and cattle. With more than 80,000 farms counted in the 2012 Census of Agriculture, Oklahoma remains in 4th position in the number of farms in the nation. The bulk of our farms are less than 500 acres in size, but contributed $2.2 billion dollars to the market value of agriculture products sold (including government payments).
The average age of farmers nationally and in Oklahoma is now 58.3 years, increasing in both since the last census. Here in Oklahoma however, this increase is happening at a significantly slower rate than the U.S. average.
Though wheat and cattle production continue to rank #1 and #2 as Oklahoma’s top commodity by value of production in year-over-year terms, we are also known for our hog production with 2.3 million hogs counted in the 2012 Census of Agriculture.
On the demographic side, we ranked second in the country for the number of American Indian principal farm operators (7,489) second only to Arizona. These operators own more than 1 million acres of Oklahoma farmland, and rent an additional 750,000 acres of the state’s 34 million acres of farmland.
Other top rankings for Oklahoma according to the 2012 census include:
- Fifth in the nation for the number of farms producing and selling value-added commodities, with 3,815 farms.
- Third in the nation for the number of farms that raised or sold veal calves with 889 farms.
- Fifth in the nation for the number of farms practicing rotational or management-intensive grazing, with 11,477 farms.
While Oklahoma might be better known for its oil and gas, 609 farms harvested biomass crops for use in renewable energy, the fifth highest number in the nation.
Our farmers also boast having the second largest inventory of on-farm horses and ponies in the nation. The only larger inventory is in our neighbor state, Texas.
As you can see, while Oklahoma is rightly known for its cattle and wheat, our agriculture is so much more than that. We are leading the nation in a number of other areas that continue to grow in importance for American agriculture.