Fewer farms being found in county

Numbers continue to drop

OBSERVER Photo The number of farms in Chautauqua County have decreased by 19% in a five-year span. Meanwhile, for the eighth year, the estimated population is Chautauqua County has declined. Since 2010, the total population has decreased by 5.2 percent, the U.S. Census Bureau reported.

Chautauqua County, over a five-year period, has seen the number of farms decrease by 19% — a rate much higher than the state decrease of 6%, according to a Cornell Cooperative Extension report released earlier this month of the 2017 Ag Census Data.

The Census of Agriculture is a comprehensive measure of farms, ranches and farmers and is completed every five years, providing agricultural data at national, state and county levels.

The total number of farms in Chautauqua County, according to the census, is down from 1,515 in 2012 to 1,228 in 2017. Additionally, the total acres of land in farms in the county decreased by 5% from 2012 to 2017, currently totaling 223,634 acres. The average size of a farm increased from 156 acres to 182 acres, with a median farm size of 85 acres.

Chautauqua County continues to have a large number of small and sustenance sized farms. In 2017, 45% of farms produced less than $10,000 in sales. The average net farm income for Chautauqua County farms was 23% greater than state farms at $52,683 per farm.

Our two largest industries, dairy and grape, continue to remain the driving forces of the county’s agricultural industry. 159 dairy farms produced $74,993,000 in market value of milk. About 342 fruit farms produced $42,556,000 in market value of products. Both of these industries point to improved efficiencies as they both saw a reduction in number of farms by 21%, but an increase in the market value of products by 2.5% for dairy and 12% for fruit. Direct to consumer sales are increasing, and showed a value of $3,501,000, an increase of 63% from 2012 for the county.

The Farm Business Management Program is one of many programs offered by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County in line with the county’s 20/20 Comprehensive Plan. CCE-Chautauqua is a community-based educational organization, affiliated with Cornell University, Chautauqua County Government, the State University of New York system and the federal government through the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

For more information, call 664-9502 or visit www.cce.cornell.edu/chautauqua. Cornell University Cooperative Extension provides equal program and employment opportunities.