USDA Releases Final 2012 Ag Census Report - Two Montana Counties Make National List for Top Wheat and Beef Cow Production


The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Statistics Service (USDA NASS) released the final 2012 Ag Census Report today, including information on agriculture in Montana. The full report can be found at . The USDA NASS takes a complete count of America’s farms and ranches and the people who operate them every five years.  The last survey was conducted in 2007.

“Agriculture is a foundation of Montana’s economy with over $4.2 billion in agricultural products produced in 2012.  This report allows us to examine the variety of crops grown and number of livestock in our state, and use that information to direct our programs and policies to meet producers’ needs,” said Director Ron de Yong, department of agriculture.

Highlights of 2012 Census of Agriculture for Montana:

Market Value of Agricultural Products: $4.2 billion 51%

Average Per Farm $151,035 59%

Direct Sales to Consumers $9.4 million 49%

Cropland Harvested 9.5 million acres 4%

Farms with Internet access 20,884 farms 74.6%

Total Production Expenses $3.5 billion 47%

In addition to the highlights above, two Montana counties were ranked in the top five nationally for production of wheat and beef cows in 2012.  Chouteau County ranked number three in total wheat production, with over 19.4 million bushels produced. Beaverhead County was Montana’s top beef cow producing county, ranking fifth in the country with 77,087 beef cows.

“The local food movement is becoming more of a force in Montana, providing local agricultural products to local consumers. Farmers sold over $9.4 million in agricultural products directly to consumers in 2012.  It is part of the reason we were recently ranked as one of the ten top states for local foods,” explained de Yong.

Montana was ranked by Strolling of the Heifers in their 2014 Locavore Index as the ninth most committed state to local foods.  The index measures on a per-capita basis the number of farmers markets, the number of consumer-supported agriculture operations (CSAs), and the number of food hubs, plus the percentage of each state’s school districts with active Farm-to-School programs.

“As we thought after the preliminary numbers were released earlier this year, agriculture has had a good run during the last five years.  However, production expenses like fuel, feed, and fertilizer rose dramatically too, up an average of 47 percent. There aren’t many industries that experience such an increase in the cost of doing business,” said de Yong.

Montana Department of Agriculture’s mission is to protect producers and consumers, and to enhance and develop agriculture and allied industries.  For more information on the Montana Department of Agriculture, visit .


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