Soybeans harvested near Worthington, Minnesota. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The gap between how many U.S. farms were profitable and those that weren't widened in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's first census since 2012, released Thursday.

Why it matters: The most in-depth government survey of the agricultural economy shows a downturn in conditions for farmers even before the start of President Trump's tit-for-tat trade war began, which has resulted in lower Chinese demand for U.S. commodities.

Details:

  • Just over 891,000 farms ended 2017 with positive net cash farm income — a measure of profitability — down from 972,445 in 2012. Meanwhile, the number of unprofitable farms jumped to 1.15 million, after falling between 2007 and 2012.
  • There are 2.04 million farms and ranches in the U.S., a decline of of 3.2% from 2012.
  • There are more small and large farms, while the number of mid-sized farms are getting squeezed. That reflects farms scaling up or scaling down to survive. "Farmers have sought to increase scale to better spread their fixed costs and increase their purchasing power with seed and fertilizer companies," Bloomberg notes.
  • Farmers are continuing to get older. The average age of all producers is 57.5, an increase of 1.2 years from 2012.

Go deeper: America's farmers are falling on tough times

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Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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  4. 2020: Biden calls for 3-month national mask mandateBiden and Harris to receive coronavirus briefings 4 times a week.
  5. States: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to drop lawsuit over Atlanta's mask mandate.
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Trump says he intends to give RNC speech on White House lawn

President Trump speaking to reporters on South Lawn in July. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump told the New York Post on Thursday that he plans to deliver his Republican National Convention speech from the White House lawn, despite bipartisan criticism of the optics and legality of the location.

Why it matters: Previous presidents avoided blurring staged campaign-style events — like party conventions — with official business of governing on the White House premises, per Politico.

Fauci's guidance on pre-vaccine coronavirus treatments

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Antibody drugs and various medicine cocktails against the coronavirus are progressing and may provide some relief before vaccines.

The big picture: Everyone wants to know how and when they can return to "normal" life, as vaccines are not expected to be ready for most Americans for at least a year. Two therapies are known to be helpful, and more could be announced by late September, NIAID Director Anthony Fauci tells Axios.