Animal Science: Today and Tomorrow
Dr. Tom Troxel Dr. Michael L. Looper
University of Arkansas Animal Science hosts the 2014 Arkansas State Beef Quiz Bowl
The University Of Arkansas Department Of Animal Science hosted the annual Beef Quiz Bowl this year in Fayetteville at the Pauline Whitaker Animal Science Center. This program is sponsored by the Arkansas Beef Council. This activity provides students an incentive to learn more about beef cattle management, food safety, forage nutrition, quality assurance and the end product. Educational material was provided for County Extension Agents and Vocational Agriculture Instructors to further the learning process beyond that of their beef 4-H and FFA projects.
Students were quizzed on many levels of question difficulties. The questions were compiled by Animal Science faculty and judging team students and covered all aspects of beef production. Four students made up a team and competed in a double elimination tournament.
Twenty-five teams participated this year. Preparation for this contest allowed students to sharpen their knowledge about beef cattle production. Additionally, students improved communication, goal setting, critical thinking and team building skills and ultimately enhanced their interest in beef cattle. This program has a great impact on educating students and encouraging a broadened perspective about their role in beef production, food safety and consumer acceptance. These efforts will be continued through the University of Arkansas Animal Science, Cooperative Extension Service, Arkansas Beef Council and Agriculture teachers across the state.
USDA release preliminary 2012 census data
USDA released some interesting data from the 2012 Agricultural census. The complete 2012 census is scheduled to be released in May.
- Number of farms – A farm is “any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the Census year.”
o In 2012, the United States had 2.1 million farms – down 4.3% from the last agricultural Census in 2007. This continues a long-term trend of fewer farms.
o Between 2007 and 2012, the amount of land in farms in the United States declined from 922 million acres to 915 million acres.
o In 2012, the average farm size was 434 acres. This was a 3.8% increase over 2007, when the average farm was 418 acres.
o Middle-sized farms declined in number between 2007 and 2012. The number of large (1,000 plus acres) and very small (1 to 9 acres) farms did not change significantly in that time
- Value of Agricultural Sales
o U.S. farms sold nearly $395 billion in agricultural products in 2012. This was 33% – $97.4 billion – more than agricultural sales in 2007.
o Crop sales were $68.7 billion more in 2012 than 2007 (a 48% increase) and livestock sales were up $28.6 billion (a 19% increase).
o In 2012, crop sales exceeded livestock sales for only the second time in Census history; the other occurrence was in the 1974 Census.
o Per farm agricultural sales averaged $187,000 in 2012. This was an increase of more than $52,000 (or 39%) over 2007.
o From 2007 to 2012, the percent of farms with sales and government payments of $1 million or more increased. But most farms in the United States are small – 75 percent had sales and government payments of less than $50,000 in 2012.
The 2012 Census Preliminary Report focuses on principal operators (the person primarily responsible for the day-to-day operation of the farm). Among 2.1 million principal farm operators in 2012:
- 92% non-Hispanic white, 8% minority
- 86% men, 14% women
- 78% in current operation 10 years or more, 22% in operation less than 10 years
- 75% had 2012 agricultural sales and government payments of less than $50,000; 25% had sales and payments of $50,000 or more
- 48% called farming their primary occupation, 52% had a different primary occupation
- 6% under 35 years old, 61% 35 to 64 years, and 33% 65 years and older
In 2012, the average age of principal farm operators was 58.3 years, up 1.2 years since 2007, and continuing a 30-year trend of steady increase. The older age groups all increased in number between 2007 and 2012. In 2012, the number of beginning farmers – on their current operation less than 10 years – was down 20% from 2007. Nearly 172,000 farmers were on their current operation less than 5 years. One million operators considered farming their primary occupation in 2012. The number who identified something other than farming as their primary occupation was 9% lower in 2012 than 2007 (Source: USDA NASS, 2012 Census of Agriculture, Preliminary Report).