Farming is quite a big industry. In fact, over one trillion dollars of the United States’ gross domestic product was attributed to agriculture, food, and related industries in 2019 alone. Agriculture is also a big part of the more rural culture scattered throughout the U.S. Let’s take a look at some of the interesting developments that are emerging within the farming and ag world.
Lots of changes took place because of the global coronavirus pandemic that began early in 2020. One of those changes was a huge boom in home gardening. The impact was noticeable, with news of the popular Burpee Seed and Plants company selling more garden seeds in 2020 than any year prior. And they’ve been around a long time—over 140 years.
While home gardens aren’t technically farms, they are a method of growing food for human consumption. It’s also an interesting development to observe as the 2021 summer season kicks into high gear. Many are wondering whether home gardens will continue to be planted. Some surveys indicate that the majority of home gardeners are planning on putting in another garden this year. Just under half of those surveyed are actually planning on planting even more this year than they did in 2020.
Farm Numbers Drop
Moving into the world of commercial agriculture, another development in farming pertains to the number of farms in the U.S. In 2020, the total number of existing farms decreased slightly. A report created by the USDA stated that there were 4,400 fewer farms in 2020 when compared to previous years. This isn’t a huge number given that the USDA puts the total number of farms at just over two million. However, these statistics are a development within the farming industry that is of interest and something to watch in 2022.
On a related note, Minnesota, Indiana, Missouri and Texas each saw their farmland acreage decrease, while the rest of the states’ acreage numbers stayed pretty level.
Newer Farms Are Growing
Things certainly aren’t all gloom and doom in the agricultural world though. Some promising statistics are emerging within the farm industry here in the U.S.
Over 25 percent of farmers are actually “new” to farming, as of 2017. A new farm in this case is generally classified as an operation that’s been in existence for less than one year and up to as many as ten years.
So, these farms may not all be brand-new. But the fact that newer operations have launched in recent years seems to be an encouraging highlight. This is especially true since the 2020 statistics show the total number of farms dipped a bit.
As with many industries, technology is leaving its imprint on farming and agriculture as well. Technology can work wonders for crop farmers through various advances and developments such as precision planting. This addition to farming can help maximize efficiency and make the most out of a farm’s planting efforts.
Automatic steering is another bit of technology becoming more and more popular with farms as well. This technology uses GPS to map out a field so a tractor can steer itself. While automatic steering does require the farmer to be in the tractor at present, who knows what advances could develop. Perhaps autonomous tractors are not too far away in the future!
From home gardening to the number and type of farms and technology that makes new things possible, the farming industry is definitely changing. It will be fascinating to look back at 2021 and learn about the farm developments that are helping to shape 2022 and beyond.