November 8, 2016
USDA's Economic Research Service studied The Changing Organization and Well-Being of Midsize U.S. Farms, 1992-2014, after finding a 5% decline in the number of midsize farms from 1992 to 2012.
What is a midsize farm?
Midsize farms are defined as those with gross cash farm income between $350,000 and $1 million. Most receive the majority of their household income from the farm operation.
How do midsize farm numbers, total production and acreage compare to other farm sizes?
USDA's Economic Research Service studied midsize farms. (Photo: James Pintar/Thinkstock)
Midsize farms accounted for about 21% of total production and 6% of U.S. farms in 2014. Farms with less than $350,000 in gross cash farm sales represented 90% of farms and produced 22% of total agricultural output. Large farms, those with greater than $1 million in gross cash farm income, accounted for 4% of all farms, but almost 57% of total production.
How did midsize farms and their households change from 1992 to 2014?
Principal operators of midsize farms are older, more experienced and more likely to have some college or a college degree. There has been a trend toward a greater proportion of female principal operators since 2002. Midsize farms generated more net farm income and operated with higher levels of financial efficiency in 2014 than in 1992. Household net worth has increased along with farmland values. More midsize farms tended to specialize in cash grains and oilseeds, hogs and poultry in 2014 than in 1992. Fewer midsize farms specialized in dairy or high-value crops in 2014 than in 1992.
Where are midsize farms going?
Midsize farms are moving to another category or exiting farming. Most continuing midsize farms remained midsize, however, they were more mobile than large or small commercial farms. About 42% of continuing midsize farms transitioned to another size category, measured by change in gross cash farm income between census years.
What role does government policy play in the survival of midsize farms?
Midsize cash grain and oilseed farms that received government fixed direct payments in 2007 had a small, but significantly greater probability of survival through 2012.
Want to read the study?
Go to http://www.ers.usda.gov.
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