WASHINGTON – Family farms remain the main source of food production in the United States, according to a report from the Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture.

“We find that 98% of American farms are family farms and they represent 87% of agricultural production. This has remained largely unchanged from the 2011 data, ”said Christine Whitt, co-author of America’s Diverse Family Farms report with Jessica Todd and Andrew Keller.

The data in this report comes from the Agricultural Resource Management Survey 2020 conducted by the ERS and the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

“The 2021 edition of this report describes the characteristics of America’s 2 million farms in 2020. Specifically, the report examines which farms are producing, how much they profit from, and their participation in federal farm programs. The report also takes a closer look at the welfare of farm households, ”said Whitt.

The USDA defines a farm as any place that, in any given year, produced and sold – or would normally have produced and sold – at least $ 1,000 in agricultural products.

Farm size is measured by gross cash farm income, a measure of farm income that includes sales of crops and livestock, government payments, and other farm-related income, including costs related to production contracts.

Here are the conclusions of the report.

Small family farms – GCFI less than $ 350,000

• Retirement farms: Small farms whose major operators report having withdrawn from farming, while continuing to operate on a small scale – 219,288 farms, 10.9% of US farms in 2020.

• Non-farm farms: Small farms with major operators reporting a principal occupation other than agriculture – 779,767 farms, 38.8% of US farms.

• Farms with agricultural vocation: Small farms whose main operators declare agriculture as their main activity. Professional farms are further classified into two categories: low sales, farms with GCFI less than $ 150,000 – 683,514, 34% of US farms; and moderate sales, farms with GCFI between $ 150,000 and $ 349,999 – 110,865 farms, 5.5% of US farms.

Medium-sized family farms

• Family farms with GCFI between $ 350,000 and $ 999,999 – 112,122 farms, 5.6% of US farms.

Large-scale family farms

• Large family farms, farms with GCFI between $ 1,000,000 and $ 4,999,999 – 51,708 farms, 2.6% of US farms.

• Very large family farms, farms with a GCFI of $ 5,000,000 or more – 6,124 farms, 0.3% of US farms.

Non-family farms

• Any farm operation where one operator and people related to the operator do not own a majority of the business – 47,275 operations, 2.4% of US operations.

Farms, Production, Farmland

• About 89% of all farms were small family farms. Compared to 2011 – the first year according to the current agricultural typology – the share of land used by small family farms increased from 52% to 48% and the share of the production value of small family farms increased from 26% at 20%.

• Large family farms accounted for 46% of the total value of production in 2020, an increase from 35% in 2011. These farms also accounted for an increased share of the total land exploited, from 16% in 2011 to 24% in 2020.

• In total, family farms accounted for around 98% of total farms and 87% of total production in 2020.

• Non-family farms accounted for the remaining 2% of farms and 13% of production. Among non-family farms, 18% had a GCFI of $ 1 million or more. These farms represented 90% of the production of non-family farms. Examples of non-family farms include unrelated partner partnerships, small non-family companies, farms with a hired operator unrelated to owners, and public corporations.

Farm operating expenses

• A significant share of total field crop farm spending was on fertilizers and other chemicals, 26%, in 2020, which was slightly lower than the share spent in 2011, 27%. Spending on seeds and plants represented 14% of spending on field crop operations in 2020, which was slightly more than in 2011, 13%.

• Feed expenditure accounted for 48% of all expenditure on dairy farms, 19% on cattle farms and 29% on other livestock operations in 2020. The share of expenditure allocated to feed for dairy and other farms in Livestock production was similar in 2011. Livestock purchases accounted for a larger share of all expenditure on beef cattle operations than did feed at 28% in 2020.

Pandemic and direct sales

• Direct sales amounted to nearly $ 10.7 billion, an increase of almost $ 2.8 billion, 35%, from the value reported in the 2019 survey. Only 27% of Total direct sales were direct to the consumer, while the remaining 73% took place through intermediary supply chains. Among farms with less than $ 75,000 in GCFI, 85% of all direct sales were DTCs in 2020.

• Changes in direct sales varied across farm size categories. Farms with less than $ 75,000 in GCFI had $ 2.5 million less in overall direct sales in 2020 than in 2019. These small farms accounted for 8% of all direct sales in 2020, up from 10% in 2019. Farms with direct sales and a GCFI between $ 75,000 and $ 350,000 increased their direct sales by $ 0.4 billion – which represented 11% of all direct sales – while farms with direct sales and a GCFIs above $ 350,000 increased their direct sales by $ 2.4 billion, which represented 81% of all direct sales.

• The overall increase in direct sales in 2020 has occurred in most direct sales marketing channels. Sales in farmers’ markets and restaurants increased by 11% and 13%, respectively, while sales in farm shops, CSAs and other DTC channels, as well as sales to regional distributors, increased. by 79% and 73%, respectively. However, sales to institutions were down 86% in 2020 compared to 2019, which was likely due to pandemic closures or restricted operations.

Government Payments, Federal Crop Insurance

• Small family farms received 81% of all payments for the USDA conservation reserve program. Environmental Quality Incentive Program and Conservation Stewardship Program payments were more likely to be received by medium-sized, large-scale, non-family farms, with 68% receiving payments in all of these categories.

• Medium- and large-scale family farms as well as non-family farms accounted for 80% of the total value of production and received 78% of commodity-related agricultural disaster programs and other payments from federal, state agricultural programs. and local.

• Small family farms received 16% of all USDA farm-level pandemic assistance and 22% of all other government payments – excluding pandemic assistance payments and conservation program – which was consistent with the smaller scale of production. Large family farms received 52% of all pandemic assistance at the farm level and 44% of all other payments.

• Additionally, 64% of all pandemic aid at the farm level reported being received from coronavirus food aid programs – programs 1 and 2 – in 2020. Another 21% came from loans of the Small Business Administration under the Paycheck and Advance Protection Program of the Economic Disaster Lending Program.

• Overall, 40% of all farms reported receiving some type of government payment in 2020.

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