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Key Findings from the 2022 Census of Agriculture



The Census of Agriculture is a comprehensive survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) every five years. Its primary purpose is to gather detailed information about agricultural operations nationwide. The data collected identifies trends in the sector and provides insight into the contributions of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) agricultural producers. While the 2022 Census of Agriculture includes 78,316 respondents who identified as AI/AN—alone or in combination with other races—it falls short of representing Indian agriculture in its entirety. However, the findings provide valuable insights, revealing economic growth and stability across Indian Country. A few key findings include:


  1. Agriculture continues to be one of the leading economic drivers in Indian Country, with more than $6.4 billion in revenues reported by 78,316 Tribal producers in 2022.

  2. Tribal producers reported $6.4 billion in revenues, almost doubling economic growth since 2017 despite a pandemic, economic downturn, and some of the most unpredictable weather events of the century.

  3. Tribal producers nationwide are reclaiming stewardship of land each year. AI/AN producers farmed or ranched 63.3 million acres of land in 2022, an increase of nearly 5 million acres since 2017.

  4. The average age of AI/AN producers is 56.6 years old, which is lower than the national average age of 58.1 years old. 

  5. Young AI/AN producers are the third largest demographic for young producers under the age of 35, with more than 8,440 reported.

  6. The majority of AI/AN producers specialize in livestock production. Tribal cattle operation revenues totaled $3.4 billion, with the majority of sales coming from 23,159 beef cattle ranches, representing approximately 39% of Indian agriculture. This total nearly matches the $3.6 billion represented in total sales from all AI/AN agricultural operations—not just cattle—accounted for in the 2017 Census of Agriculture.

  7. Crop production values for AI/AN producers nearly doubled from $1.432 billion in 2017 to $2.776 billion in 2022.

  8. The 2022 census reported an upward trend among AI/AN producers who identify their farming operations as their primary job, rather than secondary to off-farm employment.


The Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) has dedicated the past four decades to achieving equity and parity for Tribes and individual Tribal producers, while supporting Tribal sovereignty. Since its founding, IAC has actively supported the needs of producers nationwide by addressing historical inequities and advocating for inclusion in and improvement of the policies from which Tribal producers operate. Equity issues for those we serve require considerations unique to Indian Country's diversity and the trust relationships of 574+ federally recognized sovereign Tribes. The findings reported in the 2022 Census of Agriculture offer insight into the complexity of Tribes and Tribal relations, providing a roadmap for advocacy to influence change that ensures Tribal agriculture is accurately represented in Census of Agriculture data, and in the design and implementation of federal programs that rely on this data. 


Despite the challenges resulting from a pandemic and an economic downturn since the 2017 Census of Agriculture, Tribes continue to exercise self-determination through innovation, stewardship, and collective action to nourish their communities. The 2022 Census of Agriculture data is critical to building greater understanding and support for equitable access to resources that safeguard traditional foodways and enhance market access for future generations. The data contributes to the narrative of Native peoples, bringing to life a story of resilience and visibility to the issues that Tribes and individual Tribal producers encounter. Being counted builds recognition and appreciation for the contributions of Tribal producers, affirming NATIVE PEOPLE ARE STILL HERE.


While we are excited to see the reported growth of Indian agriculture in the sector, more work must be done to protect Native foods and realize true parity. IAC remains focused on its mission-driven work to maximize resources for Tribes and individual Tribal producers through its service provision, emphasizing the connection between people and the environment. We look forward to sharing more findings from the 2022 Census of Agriculture and stories from the field. Our goal is to dispel colonial concepts—which have often sought to erase the knowledge and cultures of Native peoples—and craft a new narrative that brings visibility to Tribal issues, celebrates Native ingenuity, and advances efforts to ensure federal programs are designed and implemented with Tribal communities in mind.


 

USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2022 Census of Agriculture. Complete data available at https://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/AgCensus/2022/index.php

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Beverly Powell
Beverly Powell
Jun 05

IAC has actively addressed historical injustices and pushed for the addition and enhancement of laws that govern the operations of Tribal manufacturers in order to better serve the requirements of manufacturers across the country. geometry dash subzero

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