June 19, 2009

Farming continues to drive North Dakota’s economy

Farming continues to drive North Dakota’s economy
It’s no secret that farming and ranching drives North Dakota’s economy, but what might surprise some people is that the number of farms is on the rise in the state despite a stagnant population.
Census figures estimate 32,000 farms operating in North Dakota in 2008, which hasn’t increased in the past year, but is up 1,000 farms since 2000.
A farm or ranch is defined as an establishment from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were sold or would normally be sold during the year, according to Darin Jantzi director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) North Dakota Field Office.
“Farm numbers and land in farms are broken down into five economic sales classes,” Jantzi said. “Farms and ranches are classified into these sales classes by summing their sales of agricultural products and government program payments. Sales breaks occur at $10,000, $100,000, $250,000 and $500,000. the annual estimate includes farms with their entire acreage enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program or other government programs.”
In 2008, there were 10,600 of the smallest farms and 9,400 farms earning more than $10,000, but less than $100,000, according to Jantzi. There were 4,300 up to the $250,000 level, which showed a decrease of 100 from 2007. And finally, there were 3,700 of the largest farms with sales of $500,000 or more.
All land in North Dakota farms was 39.6 million acres in 2008, 3.1 million acres below the all-time high of 42.7 million acres in 1950-54. The average farm in North Dakota is 1,238 acres.

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