96 percent of U.S. farms are family owned

January 30, 2021

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agriculture Statistical Service (NASS) publishes the Census of Agriculture every five years, the last having been completed in 2017. Using that survey of U.S. farms, NASS recently completed the Typology Report that looks at farm size and ownership. Morning Ag Clips recently published a summary of that report, “Family-owned farms account for 96% of US farms.”

tan cow with other brown cattle in fenced area in field

Photo by Eric Schroen on Unsplash

Small farms that generate less than $350,000 revenue annually make up 88 percent of the 2 million farms in the country. Those farms account for 46 percent of the land farmed and produce 19 percent of agricultural farm gate revenue. Large family-owned farms constitute only 3 percent of the farms but produce 43 percent of the revenue of family-owned farms. Mid-size farms make up only 5 percent of total farms, but 20 percent of the revenue.

“Southern and New England states have the highest share of small farms.” The small farms account for 45 percent of all direct-to-consumer sales. The small family farms in the Northeast and elsewhere are more likely to be owned by women, older people, and veterans; the small farms are also more likely to be minority-owned than are larger farms. The Morning Ag Clips summary can be found here.

On January 25, 2021, the National Farmers’ Union republished an article by Chuck Abbott at the Food and Environmental Reporting Network. That article looked at the same NASS report, but looked at it from the standpoint of the 4 percent of farms that are not family owned are growing in revenue and land farmed. Non-family-owned farms generate 20 percent of all agricultural revenue in the United States and hold 12 percent of all the land farmed. Abbott points out that non-family farms now control 116 million acres and have increased their sales by 13 percent to $70 billion in the last 5 years. Non-family farms produce everything from cattle, hogs, poultry, dairy, nuts, and grain.

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