Number of farms down from 2010

Mar 9, 2012
by WLJ
Number of farms down from 2010

The number of farms in the U.S. in 2011 is estimated at 2.2 million, down slightly from 2010. Total land in farms, at 917 million acres, decreased 1.85 million acres from 2010. The average farm size is 420 acres, up 1 acre from the previous year.

Farm numbers and land in farms are broken down into five economic sales classes. Farms and ranches are classified into these “sales classes” by summing their sales of agricultural products and government program payments. Sales class breaks occur at $10,000, $100,000, $250,000 and $500,000.

Farm numbers increased slightly in the $10,000- $99,999, $250,000- $499,999, and $500,000 and over sales classes. Higher commodity prices and larger value of sales contributed to changes in the number of farms within these sales classes. Farm numbers increased 1.3 percent, to slightly over 600,000 farms in the $10,000- $99,999 sales class and 1.9 percent in the $250,000-$499,999 sales class to over 100,000 farms. Meanwhile, the number of farms in the $500,000 and over sales class increased by 5.9 percent to 133,570 farms.

Land in farms increased in the largest sales class while decreasing in all other sales classes. Land operated by farms in the $500,000 and over in sales class increased 2.5 percent, to 305.7 million acres. Land operated by farms in both $1,000- $9,999 and $100,000- $249,999 sales classes decreased by 3.5 percent, to 100.7 million acres and 138.7 million acres, respectively.

The average farm size increased 1 acre in 2011 to 420 acres per farm. However, average farm sizes declined in some of the sales classes partially due to smaller farms moving up to higher sales classes.

The number of operations with cattle totaled 922,000 for 2011, down 1 percent from 2010. Beef cow operations in 2011, at 734,000, were also down 1 percent from last year. The number of milk cow operations for 2011 totaled 60,000, down 4 percent from 2010.

The three operation classes—cattle, beef cows, and milk cows—are classified into size groups independently. Therefore, it is possible to have more beef cow operations in a particular size group than cattle operations. As an example, an operator with 75 cattle and 40 beef cows would be classified in the 50-99 size group for cattle and 1-49 size group for beef cows.

The number of operations with hogs totaled 69,100 for 2011, unchanged from 2010. Places with 2,000 or more head accounted for 87 percent of the inventory.

The number of operations with sheep totaled 80,000 for 2011, down 1 percent from 2010. Of all sheep operations that include breeding sheep, 93.5 percent were comprised of 1-99 head, 5.4 percent had 100-499 head, and the remaining 1.1 percent were operations with 500 head or more. Operations with 1-99 head account for 35.9 percent of the inventory, 100-499 head account for 21.1 percent of the inventory, and 500 head account for 4 percent of the inventory. — WLJ