Hispanic-operated farms comprised more than 20.8 million acres of farmland throughout the United States in 2002, up 23.8 percent from 16.8 million acres five years earlier. The value of agricultural produces sold also grew by 39 percent, or $1.3 billion.

Producers of Hispanic origin are a significant and growing part of U.S. agriculture, according to data from the 2002 Census of Agriculture. It reveals major increases not only in the number of U.S. farms that Hispanics operate, but also in the product value generated on those farms.

The number of farms with Hispanic principal operators grew 51.2 percent between 1997 and 2002, from 33,450 to 50,592.

In 2002, Hispanic principal operators sold a total of $4.67 billion in agricultural products, including $3.07 billion in crops and $1.6 billion in livestock, poultry and their products.

Data from the 2002 Census of Agriculture revealed some common characteristics among Hispanic principal operators and operations. The percent of Hispanic principal operators who were full owners of the farms they operated was 72.4, and nearly all Hispanic principal operators, 92.4 percent, owned at least part of the land they operated.

More than 90 percent of Hispanic-operated farms – 45,692 – are family or individually owned, rather than partnerships or corporations. More than half of all Hispanic principal operators were between the ages of 45 and 64 years, with 63.2 percent having worked on their current farm for at least 10 years.

The 2002 Census also provided the first facts on computer and Internet use by farmers and ranchers on a county-by-county basis. Census data revealed that 33.7 percent of Hispanic-operated farms use computers for business and 41.7 percent of all Hispanic operations have access to the Internet.