Did you know that there is a separate census just for agriculture? It is held every five years; the last one was in 2017. First the results were tabulated by the nation, then by states. Now, we have the results by Congressional district and even by county. So, here is a quiz about local agriculture.
1. How many farms are in Niagara County?
2. What is the largest segment of agriculture in Niagara County?
3. What percentage of farms in Niagara County are family farms?
4. The average farm product sales is listed as $33,066. What percentage of farms reach that level of income?
5. What is the average size of a farm in acres?
6. Looking at the dollar value of the sales from a farm, which segment of income is the largest?
A. Less than $2,500
B. $2,500 to $9,999
C. $10,000 to $49,999
D. $50,000 or more
7. What percentage of farms in Niagara County farm organically?
8. How many farms hire labor?
9. Farms use different tillage practices. Rank these from the one used the most to the one used the least.
A. No Till
B. Reduced Till
C. Intensive Till
D. Cover Crop
10. Each crop or livestock is marketed differently. What percentage of farmers sell directly to consumer?
The answers are:
1 — C. Currently, there are 690 farms in Niagara County. That is down 9% from the previous census which was done in 2012.
2 — B. Dairy is the largest portion of agriculture in our county. This is also true in the 27th Congressional District and the state. In addition, New York ranks first in the United States for production of yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream.
3 — A. Ninety-five percent of the farms in Niagara County are family farms. That means they are family owned and operated. They may had different organizational structures, but family members make all the decisions.
4 — B. According to this census, the average farm product sales is $33,066.
5 — D. The average size of a farm here is 203 acres. To be specific, 95 farms are 1 to 9 acres; 251 farms are 10 to 49 acres; 226 farms are 50 to 179 acres; 69 farms are 180 to 499 acres; 13 farms are 500 to 999 acres and 36 farms are more than 1,000 acres. So, the bulk of our farms are less than 180 acres.
6 — A. 236 farms, or 34% of the total farms, make less than $2,500; 140 farms earn between $2,500 and $9,999; 139 farms earn from $10,000 to $49,999; and 175 make more than $50,000. The standard for this census is that a farm that makes more than $1,000 qualifies. From this, I would surmise that one-third of the farms in Niagara County are supplemental income for those families.
7 — C. Only 2% of the farms identify themselves as organic farms. However, conventional farms have adopted some of those practices.
8 — D. A bit more than 25% of the farms in our county hire labor. There are some crops that are labor intensive. Most fruit has to be picked by hand, for example. Other farms need labor based on their size.
9 — C, D, B, A. Intensive till, including plowing, is still the most used method.
10 — A. Twenty-eight percent of the farms sell directly. That would include farm stands, farmers markets and wineries.
So how much did you know about Niagara County agriculture? While a census is mostly numbers, it can give you a snapshot of the economic state of agriculture. Want to know more? Check out www.nass.usda.gov/AgCensus.
Margo Sue Bittner, a.k.a. Aggie Culture, has been involved in Niagara County agriculture for 40 years. She’s had experience in dairy farming, fruit production and wine agri-tourism. Ask her any question about local agriculture and if she doesn’t know the answer herself, she knows who to get it from. Email AggieCultureNiagara@gmail.com.