| The 2007 Ag Census came out this week. I wrote up some info about American farms through history yesterday. In this diary, I am going to focus on the second smallest group of farms - 10 to 49 acres.
These farms made up 28.1% of all American farms in 2007 - the largest percent they've made up of our farms on record since 1964. In 1964, they made up 20.2% of all farms and that percent has gone up and down throughout history, reaching a low at 16.4% in 1974. In acreage, these farms make up 1.7% of all American farmland.
In absolute numbers, there was a decline in farms of this size since 1964 (when there were 637,434 of them), and the numbers went up and down for several years, reaching a low of 379,543 in 1974. They've been on the rise since 1992 though, and there are now 620,283 - almost as many farms of this size as there were in 1964. In fact, in 2007 there were 56,511 more farms of this size than there were in 2002.
In short - just like the smallest farms (1-9 acres), the good news is that farms of 10-49 acres increased in numbers between 2002 and 2007, but the bad news is that most people aren't actually making a living on these farms.
So who are these farmers, and what's happening on their farms?
|The average size of the 620,283 farms of 10-49 acres is 26 acres. The average farm had $34,520 in sales but $32,819 in production expenses. The average net income was $3703. Only 31.2% of these farms reported net gains in 2007 - and coincidentally, only 32.1% of them reported that their principle occupation is farming. 1.0% of these farms were organic.
So how do the sales break down among these farms?
Sales on Farms with 10-49 Acres
(As a Percent of All Farms with 10-49 Acres)
As you can see here, even though the average farm sales were for $34,520 these farms, over 90% of these farms made less than $25k in sales, and over 80% made less than $10,000.
More information can be gained by seeing how these farms break down into categories:
Retirement Farms: 21.3%
Retirement farms have market value of
agricultural products sold of less than $250,000,
and a principal operator who reports being
Residential/Lifestyle Farms: 46.0%
Residential/lifestyle farms have market value of agricultural products sold of less than $250,000, and a principal operator who reports his/her primary occupation as other than farming.
The sum of the 2 above categories is 67.3%, meaning that just over 2/3 of farmers on farms of 10-49 acres are either retired, or have a principle occupation other than farming.
Limited Resource Farms: 16.9%
Limited-resource farms have market value of agricultural products sold gross sales of less than $100,000, and total principal operator household income of less than $20,000.
Farming occupation - lower sales: 10.3%
Farming occupation/lower-sales farms have market value of agricultural products sold of less than $100,000, and a principal operator who reports farming as his/her primary occupation.
If you look at the two above categories, you can see that 27.2% of farmers on farms 10-49 acres sold less than $100k in agricultural products. Of those, 16.9% had a household income less than $20k.
The sum of the above 4 categories is 94.5% of all farmers on farms 10-49 acres. 91.4% of farms of this size made under $25k in sales. That means that very few of these farms made over $25k in sales.
Farming occupation - higher sales: 0.7%
Farming occupation/higher-sales farms have market value of agricultural products sold of between $100,000 and $249,999, and a principal
operator who reports farming as his/her primary
Large Family Farms: 0.6%
Large family farms have market value of agricultural products sold between $250,000 and $499,999.
3631 farms were considered large family farms. 4230 farms made between $250k and $499,999 in sales. Most likely the 600 farms with this much in sales that aren't counted as family farms are classed as non-family farms.
Very Large Family Farms: 1.2%
Very large family farms have market value of agricultural products sold of $500,000 or more.
7220 farms were considered very large family farms. 8716 farms of this size made over $500k in sales. Most likely the approximately 1500 farms that made this much in sales but aren't categorized as very large family farms are counted as non-family farms.
Non-Family Farms: 3.1%
Nonfamily farms are farms organized as nonfamily corporations, as well as farms operated by hired managers.