Agriculture is an important component of Thurston County’s economy. The most recent Census of Agriculture, performed in 2012, revealed that the total value of all agricultural products sold in Thurston County was more than $122.4 million, and the average per farm was $91,634. Livestock and poultry constituted the majority of the value of agricultural sales (60% of the market value), though crops increased in their proportion of total sales.
Cost of operations severely limited the profitability of many farm operations. According to the agricultural census, average farm expenses totaled $83,572 per year, providing most farms only a minimal amount of profit. Additionally, many of the farms surveyed had only a minimal amount of sales of their product. Of the 1,336 farms in Thurston County, 746 had sales under $2,500 in 2012.
USDA Census of Agriculture
The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducts a Census of Agriculture every five years. This census is the most comprehensive source of statistics for the country’s agriculture, and the only source of uniform agricultural data for every county in the United States.
Agricultural activities include, but are not limited to, growing berries, aquaculture, tree farming, producing eggs, and farming vegetables. Data collected represent all agricultural operations, which are defined as any place that sells, or normally sells, more than $1,000 worth of agricultural products during the census year.
In 2012, 1,336 farms operated in Thurston County, encompassing a total of 76,638 acres. This number was greater than the previous two censuses; though the total amount of farmland (in acres) decreased from 2007.
Farm size has decreased over the last ten years. In 2002, the average size of a farm was 64 acres; in 2012, the average farm size was 57 acres.