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Ag census numbers show dramatic changes locally
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SOUTHWEST WISCONSIN - The 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture, released on Friday, April 12, reveals ongoing changes of land use and a continued decline in the number of farms in Southwest Wisconsin. 

In the four counties in the Kickapoo River Watershed (Monroe, Vernon, Richland, Crawford) the number of farms reported shrank by 1,846 for a 25 percent decline in the decade between 2007 and 2017. 

The ag census numbers also showed an overall 344 percent increase for the four counties in the number acres planted in soybeans in the twenty years between 1997 and 2017, combined with decreases in cattle, and acres in pasture, hay and woodland.

The decline in number of farms reported was particularly severe in the 2012 census, and continued at only a slightly slower pace in the 2017 census numbers.

Overall, between 2007 and 2017 Crawford County lost 23 percent of its farms; Monroe County lost 26 percent; Richland County lost 29 percent; and Vernon County lost 21 percent. Nearby Grant County lost 13 percent of the farms during the ten-year period.

Soybeans

Acres planted in soybeans in 2017 increased 328 percent in Crawford County over acres planted in 1997; in Monroe County soybean planting increased by 303 percent; in Richland County by 245 percent; in Vernon County soybean planting increased by a whopping 455 percent; and in Grant County by 151 percent.

Total acres planted in soybeans exploded in Vernon County between 1997 and 2002 by 13,874 acres, and again between 2012 and 2017 by 11,897 acres. Increases reported in the 2007 census were 3,258 acres and in the 2012 census they were 3,479 acres.

The increases in Crawford County were more modest, and between 2002 and 2007, acres in soybeans actually shrank by 1,701 acres. Nevertheless, total acres planted in soybeans went from 4,344 acres in 1997 to 18,576 acres in 2017.

Monroe County increases in acres planted in soybeans was the third greatest of the four counties making up the Kickapoo River Watershed, going from 4,834 acres in 1997 to 16,681 acres in 2017. Like Crawford, Monroe’s acres planted in soybeans actually declined by 1,241 acres between 2002 and 2007.

Acres planted in soybeans in Grant County were always higher than in the Kickapoo River Watershed counties, increasing from 29,602 acres in 1997 to 75,088 acres in 2017. There were dramatic increases between 1997 and 2002 of 18,494 acres; between 2007 and 2012 of 10,087 acres; and between 2012 and 2017 of 20,037 acres. Between 2002 and 2007, there was a modest decline of 3,432 acres.

Pasture, hay and cattle

Overall acres planted in pasture in the four counties in the Kickapoo River Watershed decreased by 31 percent between 1997 and 2017. Acres planted in hay decreased by 36 percent in the same time period. This likely corresponds with high commodity prices for soybeans and corn in the mid-to-late 2000s, and the overall 10 percent decrease in numbers of cattle.
Overall acres planted in pasture in the four counties in the Kickapoo River Wa-tershed decreased by 31 percent between 1997 and 2017. Acres planted in hay decreased by 36 percent in the same time period. This likely corresponds with high commodity prices for soy-beans and corn in the mid-to-late 2000s, and the over-all 10 percent decrease in numbers of cattle.
2017 USDA Census of Agriculture
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In Crawford County acres in pasture declined from 78,197 acres in 1997 to 59,402 in 2017. Acres planted in hay declined from 47,439 in 1997 to 30,723 in 2017. Numbers of cattle declined from 42,437 in 1997 to 31,506 in 2007.

Declines in pasture and hay were greatest in Monroe County between 1997 and 2017, with declines in pasture overall of 35 percent. Acres in pasture declined from 96,063 acres in 1997 to 60,040 acres in 2017. Acres in hay declined from 79,509 in 1997 to 51,349 in 2017. Declines in cattle were more modest, going from 70,262 in 1997 to 68,288 in 2017.

The second greatest declines in pasture and hay  were second greatest in Richland County, with the decline in pasture overall of 34 percent. Acres in pasture declined from 77,274 acres in 1997 to 51,143 acres in 2017. Acres in hay declined from 63,421 in 1997 to 39,931 in 2017. Declines in cattle in Richland County were much more modest than in other counties in the Kickapoo River Watershed, going from 49,516 in 1997 to 46,627 in 2017.

In Vernon County, acres in pasture declined overall by 30 percent between 1997 and 2017. Acres planted in pasture went from 108,678 in 1997 to 76,488 in 2017. Acres planted in hay went from 97,364 acres in 1997 to 61,349 acres in 2017.

Grant County had the second least overall decline in acres planted in pasture between 1997 and 2017, coming in at 26 percent. Acres planted in pasture went from 204,535 in 1997 to 152,174 in 2017. Acres planted in hay went from 103,866 in 2002 to 91,900 in 2017. Corresponding to lesser declines in pasture and hay acres, numbers of cattle increased in Grant County from 173,988 in 1997 to 175,462 in 2017.

Woodlands

Overall acres in woodlands declined in all four counties in the Kickapoo River Watershed, as well as in Grant County. Monroe and Grant County tied for the greatest declines in woodlands between 1997 and 2017 at 27 percent. The decline in Crawford County was 23 percent; in Richland it was 21 percent; and in Vernon only 16 percent.

In Monroe County acres in woodlands went from 99,986 in 1997 to 73,131 in 2017. In Grant County they declined from 132,678 in 1997 to 96,299 in 2017. In Crawford County, the decline was from 97,647 acres in 1997 to 74,757 acres in 2017. In Richland County the decline was from 76,504 acres in 1997 to 60,771 in 2017. In Vernon County, the decline was from 100,653 acres in 1997 to 84,461 in 2017.

Swine

Although “data was withheld” in the 2012 census for total number of hogs in Crawford County, overall numbers of hogs increased from 5,836 in 2007 to 6,986 in 2017. Numbers of hogs in the county had declined between 2002 and 2007 by 6,764 hogs from a high of 12,600 in 2002.

Typically you see “data is withheld” in the census numbers if reporting the data will reflect only on one producer.

In Richland County, “data has been withheld” about numbers of swine since the 1997 census, where it was reported that hog numbers in the county were at 14,981.

Number of hogs, never high in Monroe and Vernon counties have mostly declined between 1997 and 2017. In Monroe County, numbers of hogs have decreased from 3,353 in 1997 to 676 in 2017. In Vernon County, numbers of hogs have decreased from 6,369 in 1997 to 1,558 in 2017.

Numbers of hogs in Grant County have gone up and down precipitously since 1997, starting at a high of 116,693 in 1997. Between 1997 and 2002, numbers of hogs fell by 41,361 to a total of 79,940. Numbers rose a modest 4,608 between 2002 and 2007, and then fell by 25,142 between 2007 and 2012, for a total of 54,798. Between 2012 and 2017, numbers rebounded by 10,449 for a total of 65,247.