Custer County is a rural county located in the southeastern part of the state.  Over 86% of land in Custer County is classified as farm land. 

Overview

Population
11,586
County Size (acres)
2,421,318
Land in Farms (%)
86.3
Number of Farms
441
Median Farm Size (acres) 600
Average Farm Size (acres) 4,737

 

 

 

 

 

 
Source: Census of Agriculture: Table 1: County Summary Highlights: 2017

Farm Revenue

Farm revenue (which includes the market value of products sold, government payments, and farm-related income) were over $83 million while production expenses were $67 million. Government payments were 4% of farm revenues.

Market Value of Products Sold
$76,622,000
Government Payments
$3,114,000
Farm-Related Income
$3,795,000
Total Farm Production Expenses
$67,211,000
Net Farm Cash Income $16,320,000



 

 

 

Source: Census of Agriculture: Tables 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6:  2017   

Taxation

The market value of all property in Custer County was approximately $1 billion in 2019.  The taxable value assigned by the Montana Department of Revenue was $22 million.  Agricultural Property (as defined by Montana Department of Revenue as Class 3 Property) comprised 14% of the county's taxable value.

Property Tax Summary
2019
2014
Market Value of Property   $1,102,305,706 $632,048,923
Taxable Value of All Property $22,370,518 $16,568,979
Taxable Value ofAgricultural Property $3,199,671 $3,196,183
Ag Taxable Value as % of All Property 14% 19%



 

 

 

Source: Montana Dept. of Rev. Montana Taxes by County in2018and Montana Taxes by County in2014 

Market Value of Crops and Livestock

After adjusting for inflation, the market value of crops increased by 7%, while the market value of livestock increased by nearly 68%, from 1997 to 2017.



Market Value of Crops and Livestock-Custer County

Sources: Census of Agriculture: Table 1: County Summary Highlights: 2017 and St. Louis Fed Producer Price Index

Crops and Livestock

Cattle (82%) and other crops and hay (7%) comprised 89% of total crop and livestock sales in 2017.


Crops and Livestock-Custer County

Source: Census of Agriculture:  Table 2: County Summary Highlights: 2017

Farm Size by Acres 

The percentage of smaller farms, less than 500 acres, decreased slightly from 52% to 49%, while the percentage of larger farms, 500 acres or more, increased slightly from 48% to 51% from 2012 to 2017.

 

Farm Size
by Acres
2017 2012
Number of
Farms

%
Number of
Farms

%
1 to 9 39 9 40 9
10 to 49 68 15 65 15
50 to 179 79 18 71 17
180 to 499     28 6 44 10
500 to 999 55 12 29 7
1,000 or more 172 39 174 41
TOTAL 441 100 423 100
Source: Census of Agriculture:  Table 2: County Summary Highlights: 2017
 

Farm Size by Sales

The proportion of total sales from of the smallest farms with less than $100,000 in sales increased from 64% to 69%, while the proportion of total sales from the largest farms with sales of $100,000 or more decreased from 36% to 31% from 2012 to 2017.

 
Farm Size 
by Sales
2017 2012
Number of 
Farms

%
Number of 
Farms

%
Less than 2,500 123 28 113 27
2,500 to 4,999 24 5 21 5
5,000 to 9,999 23 5 37 9
10,000 to 24,999 36 8 33 8
25,000 to 49,999 53 12 39 9
50,000 to 99,999 44 10 29 7
100,000 or more 138 31 151 36
TOTAL 441 100 423 100

Source: Census of Agriculture: Table 1: County Summary Highlights: 2017 

Tillage and Land Use

The percentage of farms using reduced tillage or cover crops increased, while the percentage of farms using intensive tillage decreased from 2012 to 2017.

 
Tillage
2017 2012
Number of 
Farms

%
Number of 
Farms

%
No tillage 34 8 34 8
Reduced tillage 35 8 16 4
Intensive tillage 62 14 98 23
Cover crops 25 6 11 3
TOTAL 441   423  
Source: Census of Agriculture: Table 41 Land Use Practices
 

Producer Profile

The county producer population was somewhat younger than the Montana producer population. Thirty-eight percent of county producers were under 55 years of age, while 31% were over 65 years of age. Thirty-four percent of the Montana producer population were under 55, while 36% were over 65 years of age. Fifty-eight percent of producers in the county were males, while 60% of Montana producers were males. Farming was the primary occupation for 48% of county producers, while farming was the primary occupation for 50% of Montana producers.

Characteristics
County State
Number of 
Producers

%
Number of 
Producers

%
Age
18 -25 13 2 570 1
25 to 34 96 11 3,285 7
35 to 44 82 10 5,179 11
45 to 54 132 15 7,309 15
55 to 64 237 28 13,838 29
65 to 74 164 19 11,469 24
75 and older 99 12 5,587 12
Gender
Male 497 58 28,563 60
Female 359 42 18,673 40
Primary Occupation
Yes 412 48 23,847 50
No 444 52 24,314 50
TOTAL PRODUCERS 856 100 48,161 100

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Census of Agriculture: Table 45 Selected Operation and Producer Characteristics

Top Crops by Acre

The top crops were hay and haylage, winter and spring wheat and barley.


Tops Crops by Acre-Custer County

 Source: Census of Agriculture: Table 1: County Summary Highlights: 2017

Top Livestock

The top livestock were cattle, sheep, and poultry (chickens and turkeys).

Livestock
Number of Head
Cattle 90,952
Sheep 5,461
Chicken-Layers 792
Chicken-Broilers 110
Turkeys 52

 

 

 

 



Source: Census of Agriculture: Tables 11 (Cattle), 13 (Sheep) and 19 (Poultry) 

Employment Impact

Agricultural production employed 760 workers, or 12% of the county’s labor force.  According to IMPLAN, economic impact model, 499 of the workers were directly employed in production agriculture.  An additional 174 workers were employed in businesses supporting agricultural production, such as feed and fertilizer dealers, and another 87 workers were employed in other related businesses, such as grocery and drugs stores. For every 10 jobs on farms and ranches, 5 additional jobs are generated in the county.

Impact Type
Labor Force
Impact Multipliers
County Labor Force 6,153  
Direct Impact 499
Indirect Impact 174 0.35
Induced Impact 87 0.17
Total Impact 760 0.52
Agriculture Share (%) 12  

 

 

 

 

 

 


Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov/#cntyaa and IMPLAN Estimates   

Value Added Impacts

 

Farms and ranches generated $48.3 million of value-added, or 10% of the county’s total gross domestic product of $506 million in 2017.  According to IMPLAN, $29.3 million was directly contributed by farmers and ranchers.  An additional $13.6 million was generated by businesses supporting agricultural production and $5.4 million was generated by other related businesses.  Each dollar of value-added in agriculture by a farmer or rancher contributes an additional $0.64 of value-added in other sectors of the county’s economy.

 


Impact Type
Value - Added
($1 million)

Impact Multipliers
County GDP* 506.0  
Direct Impact** 29.3
Indirect Impact** 13.6 0.46
Induced Impact** 5.4 0.18
Total Impact** 48.3 0.64
Agriculture Share (%) 10  











Sources:  * St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, ** IMPLAN Estimates  

References


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