Farms grew in size, number and revenue in Mass.

Photo Courtesy: MGNonline

BOSTON (AP) — The number of farms has increased over the past five years in Massachusetts, where farmland has grown in both size and revenue, according to a new government census of American agriculture.

The report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that the number of farms in the state increased from 7,691 in 2007 to 7,755 in 2012. The average size of farms increased by more than 5,000 acres.

The overall value of agricultural products increased as well, from $489 million in 2007 to $492 million in 2012, according to the report. Crop production, including nursery and greenhouse crops, accounted for more than 70 percent of the total revenue.

Experts say much of the growth comes from an increase in specialty crops, mostly fruits and vegetables that have risen in popularity with consumers. Livestock, poultry and related products decreased in value from $125 million in 2007 to $109 million in 2012, the report said.

A spokeswoman from the state agricultural department said hard financial times forced some farmers to switch from livestock to growing crops because it costs less to maintain.

And the amount of government subsidies almost doubled from 2007, with slightly more than $8 million in 2012.

New England as a whole saw a growth in the number and size of farms. But nationally, farms decreased by about 4 percent, continuing a long-term trend. Despite fewer farms, sales were at a record high for the country.


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