Family farms are the beating heart of U.S. agriculture, confirms a new report from USDA’s Economic Research Service. Most (90%) farms are small (with gross cash income less than $350,000) and account for 22 percent of production. However, the largest share of the value of production occurs on large-scale family farms.
Other highlights from the 2020 edition of America’s Diverse Family Farms, which is based on a sample of approximately 14,450 farms, are:
- 98% of U.S. farms are family farms, and they account for 86% of farm production.
- Small family farms operate almost half of the farmland. The largest share of the value of farm production (44%), however, occurs on large-scale family farms.
- Farm households, in general, are neither low income nor low wealth. In 2019, median farm household income, which includes both farm and off-farm income source, exceeded that for all U.S. households but was lower than the median among all U.S. households with self-employment income.
- Women play a key role in over half (51%) of farm operations. The largest share of principal female operators is found among farms specializing in poultry and other livestock, at 31% and 30%, respectively.
- 17% of all principal operators plan to retire in the next 5 years. However, more than 60% do not have a succession plan or have not yet identified a successor.
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