New data released Tuesday by USDA’s Economic Research Service shows the number of U.S. farms continues to decline. After peaking at 6.8 million farms in 1935, the number of U.S. farms and ranches fell sharply through the early 1970s.
Researchers say the rapidly falling farm numbers in the mid-20th century reflect the growing productivity of agriculture, increased mechanization, and increased nonfarm employment opportunities. Since 1982, the number of U.S. farms has continued to decline, but much more slowly. In 2022, there were 2.0 million U.S. farms, down from 2.2 million in 2007. Similarly, the acres of land in farms continue a downward trend with 893 million acres in 2022, down from 915 million acres ten years earlier.
The average farm size in 2022 was 446 acres, only slightly greater than the 440 acres recorded in the early 1970s. The data comes as USDA this year predicts net farm income at $136.9 billion in calendar year 2023, a decrease of $25.9 billion relative to 2022.