Agriculture Census Data

Conducted by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Census of Agriculture is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Even small plots of land - whether rural or urban - count if $1,000 or more of such products were raised and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year. The Census of Agriculture, taken only once every five years, looks at land use and ownership, operator characteristics, production practices, income, and expenditures. For America’s farmers and ranchers, the Census of Agriculture is their voice, their future, and their opportunity. NASS is the federal statistical agency responsible for producing official data about U.S. agriculture and is committed to providing timely, accurate, and useful statistics in service to U.S. agriculture. All Census of Agriculture data can also be accessed using NASS’s searchable database, Quick Stats.

Rhode Island has the highest percentage of beginning farmers in the country. Both the number of farms and the percentage of farmland in RI grew from 2017 to 2022 according to the census data, demonstrating the increased support for local agriculture and food throughout the state. 

DEM continues to work across many fronts to benefit and strengthen Rhode Island’s green economy and to assist local farmers and fishers in growing their businesses. There are more than 1,000 farms sprinkled across the state and RI is home to a thriving young farmer network.  DEM continues to make investments in critical infrastructure as well as provide farm incubation space to new farmers through its Urban Edge Farm and Snake Den Farm properties. The state’s food scene is often cited as an area of economic strength ripe for innovation and growth. Already, the local food industry supports 60,000 jobs, and the state’s green industries account for more than 15,000 jobs and contribute $2.5 billion to the economy annually. Supporting local agriculture benefits all Rhode Islanders ensures our future food security, enhances our environment, and celebrates the state’s unique food cultures and landscape. 

History of the Census of Agriculture

The first Census of Agriculture was conducted in 1840 in 26 states and the District of Columbia.
Since 1974, the Census of Agriculture has defined a farm as “any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year.”

180 years later:

  • The 2022 Census of Agriculture is the 30th in the series, and the 6th conducted by NASS.
  • In 1997, the Census of Agriculture was transferred from the Census Bureau to NASS.
  • The Census of Agriculture encompasses 50 states, Puerto Rico, and outlying areas (Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Northern Mariana Islands).