The United States Department of Agriculture released its 2017 census which found Missouri ranked No. 2 for number of farms, right behind Texas.
According to the USDA’s census, Missouri has 95,320 farms, most of which are family-owned and run. Small farms are more common in Missouri whereas other states like Nebraska and Iowa have more corporate, large farms.
Eric Bohl, director of public affairs for the Missouri Farm Bureau, said the growth is due to geography, climate and the number of small people interested in farming.
“A lot of our agricultural leaders in Missouri have developed themselves through that Missouri Farm Bureau in Farming Ranchers program,” Bohl said. “We’d like to think that that’s paying dividends and just the number of people getting involved because they see the excitement young people have and that there is opportunity there.”
The census found the number of farmers between the ages of 25 and 34 increased seven percent since 2012.
Bohl also mentioned young farmers are more interested in raising animals as opposed to crops because it is easier to gain access to livestock. When a farmer is successful with animals, that’s when Bohl said a farmer might expand into crops.
Along with an influx of young farmers, the USDA found the number of female farmers and farmers with military experience has also increased.
“We think there’s a lot of opportunities still in agriculture. [A growing population’s demand] is going to lead to more demand for our products and we’re the best in the world at producing agricultural products,” Bohl said.