The number of Nebraska farms dropped again last year.
David Grimes has been farming the same land for 35 years. In that time he's seen a lot of change, some farms grow while others disappear.
"Our family farms about 1500 acres where a generation or two ago, a family farm would have bee a fourth of that," Grimes said.
He's not surprised to hear the number of farms in Nebraska is declining.
"I pulled out my 1921 plot book of Lancaster county and I'd say in the township I live which is 36 square miles, there were at least 100 farmers. Right now I can count 17," Grimes said.
According to the USDA, Nebraska had 400 fewer farms in 2011 than the previous year. The average size has grown by about 10 acres and more farms are making more money.
A report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National
Agricultural Statistics Service says the total hit 46,800 in 2011,
compared with 47,200 in 2010.
The service says the 2010 figure was unchanged from 2009. But
those figures were down 200 from 2008's count.
In Nebraska, the average farm size was 972 acres last year,
compared with 966 the year before.
The number of Nebraska farms with annual sales above $500,000
grew by 1,500 in 2011. Much of that was offset by a combined drop
of 1,100 for the sales categories of $100,000 to $250,000 and
$250,000 to $500,000. The USDA says higher commodity prices were a major factor in those figures.
"It's unfortunate we don't have as many folks involved in production agriculture as we've seen in the past, but we've become a lot more better and efficient," Jordan Dux with the Nebraska Farm Bureau said.
Dux says getting younger people back on the farm is the key. That's why the Farm Bureau supports tax credits for farmers and opposes regulations that would restrict what teens can do on a farm.
"The average age of a farmer continues to increase. It's well into the 50s now. We want to try and make sure there are policies out there that allow kids to come back to the farm. Whether it be tax policies, trying to make sure we have a decent estate tax so they can actually pass that farm down to the next generation," Dux said.
Grimes is hoping his son with take over the family farm and carry on what he built.
"We need to get our children and our neighbor children and even people in the city interested excited about agriculture," Grimes said.
He says it's important. Without Nebraska farms the world's growing population will go hungry.