HELENA, Mont. -

The total market value of Montana agricultural products shot up more than 50 percent over a five-year period as the number of farms declined.
Preliminary data from the U.S. government agriculture census released Thursday shows the value of Montana products sold went from $2.8 million in 2007 to $4.2 million in 2012.
During that period, the number of farms in the state dropped from 29,524 to 28,008. The average age of a Montana farmer went from 57.8 to 58.9.
Department of Agriculture Director Ron de Yong says the number of farms fluctuates, and the 2012 total is higher than the 1997 numbers.
De Yong also says there are more farmers under the age of 35 than in 2007 and more small farms of 50 acres or less.