Economic Information Bulletin No. (EIB-63) 39 pp

February 2010

Small Farms in the United States: Persistence Under Pressure

Ninety-one percent of U.S. farms are classified as small-gross cash farm income (GCFI) of less than $250,000. About 60 percent of these small farms are very small, generating GCFI of less than $10,000. These very small noncommercial farms, in some respects, exist independently of the farm economy because their operators rely heavily on off-farm income. The remaining small farms-small commercial farms-account for most small-farm production. Overall farm production, however, continues to shift to larger operations, while the number of small commercial farms and their share of sales maintain a long-term decline. The shift to larger farms will continue to be gradual, because some small commercial farms are profitable and others are willing to accept losses.

Keywords: Family farms, farm businesses, farm financial performance, farm-operator household income, farm operators, farm structure, noncommercial farms, small farms, small commercial farms

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