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Report: Farms, Land in Farms Decline. Average Size Increases
USAgNet - 02/04/2008

The number of farms in the United States in 2007 is estimated at 2.08 million, 0.6 percent fewer than in 2006. According to the latest numbers from the USDA, total land in farms, at 930.9 million acres, decreased 1.5 million acres, or 0.16 percent, from 2006. The average farm size was 449 acres during 2007, an increase of three acres from the previous year. The decline in the number of farms and land in farms reflects a continuing consolidation in farming operations and diversion of agricultural land to nonagricultural uses.

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 declined in the $1,000 - $9,999 and the $10,000 - $99,999 sales classes. Farm numbers rose slightly in the three largest sales classes. The changes within the sales classes were a result of operations moving to larger sales classes by consolidation or expansion and rising incomes as result of strong commodity prices. Because of rising incomes, many farms and ranches near the top of their sales class in 2006 moved into the next higher sales class in 2007 without adding land or otherwise expanding their operations.

The largest percentage changes from 2006 occurred in the smallest and largest sales classes. Farm numbers declined 1.5 percent, to 1.14 million farms, in the $1,000 - $9,999 sales class. Meanwhile, farm numbers increased 4.4 percent, to 84,970 farms, in the $500,000 and over sales class. The number of farms with less than $100,000 in sales fell 1.2 percent from 2006 while the number of farms with $100,000 or more in sales rose 2.2 percent.

Land in farms also shifted from lower sales classes to higher sales classes. In the $1,000 - $9,999 sales class, land in farms dropped 1.6 percent, to 112.8 million acres, while land operated by farms in the largest sales class, $500,000 & over in sales, increased 1.8 percent, to 217.3 million acres.

Overall, the average farm size increased three acres in 2007. However, average farm sizes declined in some of the sales classes due to smaller farms moving up to higher sales classes.

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