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Auctioneers search for bidders for heifers at the Calhoun livestock arena last week during a consignment sale where prices fell well below average, another indication of tough times for farmers in the mid-Coosa Valley.

The 2017 Census of Agriculture paints a stark picture for local farming operations, perhaps vividly illustrating why the family farmer is a dwindling entity.

The data, compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said there was 547 farming operations in Floyd County, the average farm being 137 acres in size.

The market value of products sold was $97,699 per farm, however the net cash income from farm operations was an average of only $22,246. The $75,000 difference between gross sales and net income is illustrative of the continuing escalation of prices for fuel, fertilizer, pesticides and everything else involved in the production chain.

Only 37 farms reported sales in excess of $100,000.

The ag census also reports the largest number of farms in Floyd County, 214 of them, fall in the range of 10-49 acres. The second largest category is the farm between 50 and 179 acres, with 158 of those reported in 2017.

The market value of land and improvements, buildings on the average farm in Floyd County was listed at $665,857.

Floyd County had 216 beef cattle producers, but just seven dairy operations. The county reported 70 farms involved in egg production and 13 in the broiler, chicken meat production category.