New Ag Census Data Now Available
The 2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture was released a few weeks ago with the latest statistics showing that California and Arizona continue to produce the vast majority of the nation’s lettuce supply. With California accounting for 72.3 percent and Arizona making up for 22.4 percent, the two states now account for 94.7 percent of all lettuce grown in the U.S.
For consumers, this means of course, that the vast majority of lettuce they eat each year is produced under a system of mandatory government audits provided by the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreements in California and Arizona. That is over 52 billion servings per year. Let’s look at those numbers as little bit closer from farm to fork:
- In 2012 approximately 330,000 acres of leafy greens were grown and harvested under the LGMA program.
- That averages out to 31 million pounds of leafy greens harvested each day.
- Distributed to the U.S. population that is more than 165 salads per person per year – or one for each person every other day.
When it comes to the production of vegetables in California, the census shows there are 6,155 vegetable, melon and potato farms in the state accounting for $6.3 billion in farm value. For lettuce alone there are 1,486 farms and another 278 farms producing spinach. This is up significantly from the last census in 2007 when there were just 753 lettuce farms. Even though California farms tend to be larger, the vast majority of farms are small with fewer than 50 acres and the largest increase in lettuce farming operations comes from the very smallest farms which have fewer than 1 acre. Meanwhile the number of the very largest farms – greater than 1,000 acres – is very consistent at 66 farms in 2012 compared with 63 in 2007.
It’s also interesting to note the Census shows that 87 percent of all U.S. farms are operated by families or individuals.
The information available on U.S. farming through this latest census is endless. You can access a searchable database at on the U.S.D.A.’s website. You can also find census infographics from USDA on U.S. Agriculture demographics, geography, practices and production.