3 months ago by Brett Wessler, cattlenetwork.com
Data shows the average farm size has remained steady over the last 30 years, however a closer look shows fewer “average” farms and considerably more large and small farms.
The Agricultural Resource Management Survey, USDA’s primary source of farm financial information shows in a 2011 survey of 1.68 million farms the average farm was 234 acres. More analysis reveals four out of five farms are smaller than the average, and the median farm size, the farm smaller than half and larger than half of the 1.68 million farms, was just 45 acres.
A recent article from the USDA’s Economic Research Service says the data is skewed by the growing trend of few farms working more acres. This has increased over the past 30 years with advancements in technology and farm organization.
More efficient equipment, precision farming, genetically engineered seeds and a more prominent role for GPS systems have allowed farms to manage larger farms in the same amount of time, and lower their average cost per acre through a better economy of scale.
From the chart below, the majority of the farms are between 10 and 49 acres, but the majority of the cropland is owned by farms with more than 2,000 acres.