Michigan Farms Do More With Less [DATA]

USDA says market value of state’s farm products rose 51 percent despite loss of almost 4,000 farms.

Farming is big business in Michigan. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the market value of farm products sold statewide totaled almost $8.7 billion in 2012. That’s up from $5.7 billion in 2007, an increase of more than 50 percent

Not bad, considering Michigan lost nearly 4,000 farms during those five years. The USDA’s Census of Agriculture reveals other data about the state’s farming industry.

By the numbers, between 2007 and 2012:

  • There were about 5,000 fewer farm operators in Michigan, a loss of almost 6 percent.

  • Michigan lost about 83,000 acres of farmland, a decline of less than 1 percent.

  • The state gained almost 200,000 acres of harvested cropland, an increase of almost 3 percent. 

  • The size of the average farm grew from 179 acres to 191 acres, a 6.7 percent increase.

To put it another way, Michigan had fewer farms, but they were larger and more productive. They were also more connected.

Farmer on the Dell (Computer):

  • The percentage of farms with internet access grew. In 2012, 70 percent had internet access, up from 59 percent in 2007.

  • The most common internet source was digital subscriber line (DSL), followed by mobile broadband, satellite, cable modem and dial-up.

Growing older:

  • The average age of a Michigan farmer rose from 56.3 to 57.6 years.

  • The USDA Census shows a sharp drop in the number of farmers aged 35 to 54, down 21 percent.

  • At the same time, there was an 8 percent increase in the number of farmers 70 and older.

  • Women made up a slightly smaller percentage of Michigan farmers in 2012, but the rate remained over 30 percent.

  • Less than 15 percent of the state’s farms had women as their principal operators.

Locally grown:

  • There were more than 1,300 farms in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties.

  • Of the three, Macomb County had the most farmland (about 68,000 acres) and the largest average farm size (135 acres)

  • Together, the market value of agricultural products sold in the three counties in 2012 was $125.7 million.

READ MORE FROM WDET: Almanac Tracks Farming Trends and More

Pat Batcheller



  • Pat Batcheller
    Pat Batcheller is a host and Senior News Editor for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news, traffic and weather updates during Morning Edition. He is an amateur musician.