Farm Numbers Are On the Decline

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va (WHSV)-- According to the latest census data, there are fewer farmers in the Valley.

"We're trying to find good employees right now," said Mark Deavers, who owns a farm in Rockingham County.

He owns a farm like those included on the 2007 and 2012 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) census. According to the USDA census data, there is a decline in the number of farms in Rockingham County by 3 percent. The number of farms went down only one percent in Augusta County.

While some would think fewer farms would mean more quality help is available to farm owners, Deavers says that's not the case.

"They want me to put them in a $100,000 piece of machinery they get to ride around instead of digging thistles or stocking hay or doing work like that. They need to work themselves up," said Deavers.

He blames technology for the lack of interest in farming; especially among our younger generations.

"I find out a lot of times, these young wipper-snappers, if it doesn't have a computer hooked up to it, they don't know how to do it," said Deavers.

Yet, the average market value of products sold from area farms has increased about 23 percent in Rockingham County and 19 percent in Augusta County.

"This is the backbone. This is what feeds everyone in our country," said Jeffrey Good, who has worked on a farm.

The average size of that backbone is also decreasing in both counties. The average acres on a farm are down 1 percent in Rockingham County and 8 percent in Augusta County.

Good says smaller farms are a great thing for the area.

"It's the small farms that employ the local people and that bring all the grain and all the food to the table for everyone," said Good.

The USDA is taking suggestions on how to make the next census better for 2017. To share your ideas, click the link on this story.


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