Agriculture in America remains overwhelmingly populated by family farms. A new report by the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) shows not only just how dependent America is on family farms, but also how many are independent of government.
While farms are often depicted as benefiting from “corporate welfare” as they pursue “factory farming” practices, USDA’s “America’s Diverse Family Farms: 2016 Edition” tells a different story. Among facts reported are these:
- Family farms of various types account for 99 percent of all farms, and those farms account for 89 percent of all production as of 2015.
- Small farms account for a large share of the production of poultry and eggs, along with 52 percent of the hay production.
- Seventy-two percent of all farms received no farm-related government payments in 2015.
Since 1991 the ERS researchers say farms producing $5 million or more have increased their share of production to 23 percent in 2015, up from 13 percent. The mid-range farms with $1 million to $4,999,999 in production increased to 29 percent, up from 19 percent.
Dairy production and specialty crops dominated that production.
Small farms are more likely to have an operating profit margin. Farm households are generally not low-income when compared with other U.S households and U.S households headed by someone who is self-employed.