Lost farms and farmland

January 9, 2020
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Farmland is disappearing in the Northeast and throughout the country at an alarming rate. The reasons for this reduction are numerous, and include encroaching commercial and residential development, the recent and relentless dairy crisis that has forced the closing of many dairy farms, and the retirement of many farmers who have no successor to take over the farming operation.

deserted barn

Deserted Barn

In an effort to quantify the extent of the losses, we have gathered the most recent data from the USDA’s Census of Agriculture in 2017 and compared it to historical data from the 1959 census. We compiled the data into the chart below, which shows the numbers of farms and the acres of land in farming in each state for the two featured census years.

Farms lost over the last 60 years
 # of FarmsAcres in Farming # of Farmspercent decreaseAcres in Farmingpercent decrease
CSG East States19592016
Connecticut 829288444355000.3373800000.57
Delaware520876252623000.5585300000.305
Maine17360308200072000.58513000000.578
Maryland251223450000124000.520000000.42
Massachusetts11179114000072000.3565000000.561
New Hampshire6542113400041000.3734300000.621
New Jersey15459137900099000.367500000.456
New York8235613400000334000.59469000000.4851
Pennsylvania10005211800000530000.4773000000.381
Rhode Island139513783011000.211600000.565
Vermont12099290000068000.43812000000.562
2850644006979914290021350000
Canadian Provinces19562017
New Brunswick2211661727922550.8983445040.442
Nova Scotia2107541623534780.8359156570.022
Ontario1406028200000496000.64790000001.09
Prince Edward Island943241909913530.8565754900.373
Québec1226175500000289190.76446000000.163
31584215152.61385605.15435651.
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