Back to Basics: Should You Invest in This Forgotten Sector?

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Source: Getty Images

Source: Getty Images

While new-age industries such as social media and cloud-computing generate more than their fair share of headlines, investors may want to start paying attention to one of the world’s oldest sectors.

Agriculture sales and production expenses are reaching new record highs. U.S. producers sold $394.6 billion worth of agricultural products in 2012, which cost $328.9 billion to produce, according to the latest Census of Agriculture, released earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Total organic product sales by farms have surged to $3.1 billion, up 82 percent since 2007. Overall, there are now 3.2 million farmers operating 2.1 million farms on 914.5 million acres across the nation.

Eighty-seven percent of all U.S. farms are operated by families or individuals. However, large farms dominate the market. Three quarters of all farms had sales of less than $50,000, producing only 3 percent of the total value of farm products sold. Farms with more than $1 million of sales produced 66 percent of the value. Much of the increased farm income was concentrated geographically, as California led the nation with 9 of the 10 top counties for value of sales.

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