Profile of small farms in Washington State : 2015 update
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This summary of trends in Washington State agriculture is designed to assist agricultural researchers, educators, policymakers, planners, service providers, and agricultural businesses in better understanding and meeting the needs of Washington State’s small farms. Based on the 2012 Census of Agriculture by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are 37,249 farms in Washington State. Of these farms, 89% or 33,228 have sales less than $250,000 per year, meeting the 2012 USDA Definition of a Small Farm (1998). Over 45% or 16,900 farms in Washington reported annual sales below $2,500 and can be classified as “non-commercial” operations. If these “non-commercial” farms are removed from the total, 80% of the remaining 20,349 farms have annual farm sales under $250,000. Overall, the number of farms in Washington State decreased 5% from 39,284 to 37,249 between the 2007 and 2012 agricultural census. This loss of farm numbers was most pronounced in farms with under $500,000 in sales. With the exception of farms with under $2,500 in sales, there has been a continuous loss of small and mid-sized farms since 1997. Two areas of continued growth in Washington State agriculture include the number of Latino-operated farms and the number of farms selling directly to consumers.