2012 USDA Census of Agriculture


The USDA’s recently released 2012 Agricultural Census unveils new data that helps define the current state of agriculture in the United States.

2012 Preliminary Report
2012 Infographics
2007 Full Report

We have gathered the following statistics on contract agriculture from the 2012 ag census:

  • Nationally, chicken (broiler) farms under contract declined from 63% of all chicken farms in 2007 to 48% in 2012.
  • Contract poultry production is dominant in North Carolina, though there is still a decline from 94% of poultry farms operating under contracts in 2007 to 85% in 2012.
  • The number of poultry operations under contract in NC has dropped by 31% since 2002, while the number of broilers produced under contract has increased by 6% during the same period.
  • However, the number of birds sold under contract remained steady at 96% nationally and 99% in North Carolina.
  • Contract hog farming is less dominant both nationally and in North Carolina and increased at both levels: moving from 12% of hog farms operating under contract in 2007 to 14% in 2012 nationally, and from 51% to 67% in North Carolina.
  • As with poultry, the number of hogs produced under contract remained relatively stable, staying at 43% nationally and decreasing from 72% to 63% in North Carolina.
  • Data from the USDA’s Farm Costs and Returns Survey (1992-95) and Agricultural Resource Management Survey (1996-2011)
    1. “Higher debt-to-asset ratios indicate a higher reliance on borrowed funds. The average farm business debt-to-asset ratio was 0.13 in 1992, rose to 0.15 in 1997, but declined to 0.09 by 2011.”
    2. Report figure shows that poultry is an exception to this, with an average around 0.22, more than twice the average of other commodities.