I’m being interviewed today by a reporter who wants to know about trends in New England agriculture. So in preparation, I’ve pulled up the following facts (and thought I’d share them here as well). For example, did you know that:
- While the number of farms nationally continues to decline, farms have increased about 5% in New England since the last Ag Census to around 35,000 farms.
- The land in agriculture has also decreased nationally, while land in productive farming in New England has increased by about 4% to 4.2 million acres.
- Farmland in New England is being converted from hay production to more valuable crops such as nursery crops, small fruits and vegetables.
- Beginning farmers (those with less than 10 years of experience) declined nationally but increased in New England.
- The fastest growing demographic category in New England agriculture is in farms managed by women, up 15% in the past 5 years.
And in Massachusetts:
- Massachusetts was one of only 10 states that saw an increase in both the number of farms and land in farms.
- Massachusetts operators include a greater percentage of women and a relatively high percentage of beginning farmers.
- Massachusetts crops feature an emphasis on nursery crops, and a good amount of fruits, nuts and berries.
- The sales channels in Massachusetts are also different than the national norm, with unusually strong direct- to-consumer sales, direct sales to retail outlets (such as stores, restaurants, and institutions), and community supported agriculture (CSA) arrangements.