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More Farms in Maine! We Like That.

AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry recently announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released a preliminary report on the results of the 2012 Census of Agriculture. This report shows that while the number of farms declined by four percent nationally, the number of Maine and New England farms has increased since 2007 when the last census was conducted. In 2012, there were 8,174 Maine farms, up from 8,136 in 2007 and 7,196 in 2002.

The preliminary data includes the number of farms, land in farms (acreage), market value of agricultural products sold including government payments, and demographics for Maine, the nation and for Puerto Rico. USDA will release the full census results, including data to the county level, later in the spring.

“The preliminary Census of Agriculture results show that Maine continues to lead New England in the number of farms,” said Governor Paul LePage in a news release. “The market value of Maine’s agricultural products has increased 24 percent since 2007. The fact that Maine has made progress in a number of areas during a challenging economic environment is a testament to the resiliance and hard work of farmers and processors. My administration will continue to promote future growth in agriculture and our natural resource economy.”

“The Census of Agriculture is an important indicator of the status and health of agriculture in Maine and the nation as a whole,” said DACF Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Although we are aware of challenges for certain food production sectors like dairy, the full census results in the spring will help us to assess our strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for future growth. As part of the LePage Administration’s focus on agriculture and all aspects of the natural resource economy, Maine combined three natural resource agencies into the DACF leaving Maine well-positioned for future growth and the creation of natural resource jobs.”

Conducted since 1840, the Census of Agriculture is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. It is conducted every five years by the federal National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to produce official data about U.S. agriculture. It is a uniform, comprehensive source of agricultural data for every county in the nation. A Maine summary of the preliminary census data prepared by NASS’s New England Field Office is attached.

For more information on the data, contact:

Gary R. Keough State Statistician United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service New England Field Office Concord, New Hampshire (603) 227-3129 Gary.keough@nass.usda.gov

For more information about the Census of Agriculture and access to the 2012 Census report, visit agcensus.usda.gov.

SOURCE:Bangor Daily News

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