USDA has announced preliminary state and national demographic data from the 2002 Census of Agriculture — the nation's largest agricultural information-gathering project.

According to Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman, the new census results show African American, American Indian, Hispanic and women operators are all significant contributors to agriculture and their numbers have all increased since 1997.

For example, preliminary results show:

  • Ninety percent of America's agricultural operations are still run by individuals or families and most are still small farms. In fact, the majority of operations (59%) had less than $10,000 in sales of agricultural products in 2002.

  • The average age of American agricultural producers in 2002 was 55.3 years old. Twenty years ago, it was 50.5.

  • In 2002, 27.2% of ag producers were women; the number of women who were principal operators increased 12.6% from 1997.

  • Principal operators of Spanish, Hispanic or Latino origin increased by 50.8% from 1997 to 2002.

  • Black principal operators increased by 8.8% and American Indian principal operators increased by 19.4% from 1997 to 2002.

Final 2002 census data at the national, state and county levels will be released on June 3, and can be accessed via the Web at www.usda.gov/nass. You can also call the NASS Hotline at 800-727-9540.