Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Current Farm Size and Production Statistics

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These statistics, to follow, sum up why agri-business controls farm policy these days, and it also explains why the fabric of our small communities and their demographics has declined so severely. Finally, it defines what passes for "food" in this country.

Large-scale family farms (annual sales of $250,000 or more), plus nonfamily farms, made up only 12 percent of U.S. farms in 2007 but accounted for 84 percent of the value of U.S. production.

Most U.S. farms—approximately 98 percent—are family farms, where the farm operator and relatives own the majority of the business. The remaining 2 percent are nonfamily, but only a small fraction of these (15 percent) are corporations. Other types of nonfamily farms include farms equally owned by unrelated business partners, and farms operated by a hired manager for a family of absentee owners.

The farm count is dominated by small family farms―those with annual sales below $250,000. Small family farms account for 88 percent of all farms and for the bulk of farm assets (64 percent), including land. Residential farms—where operators report off-farm work as their main occupation—account for 51 percent of small farms. Retired farmers, still operating on a reduced scale, make up another 21 percent.

Small family farms, however, contribute only 16 percent to farm production. Large-scale family farms account for another 66 percent, and nonfamily farms for the remainder. Farms with sales of $1 million or more account for just over half of total farm production.

Households operating small family farms often report losses from farming and rely on off-farm work for their livelihood. As a result, policies affecting the general economy are important to them.

--Kalpa

source: usda



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