Total Number of U.S. Farms Were Down in 2011

Monday, February 20th, 2012

The number of farms in the United States 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 & 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.

Meanwhile, 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.