It’s a longtime trend that continues, the decreasing number of farms in Indiana and across the United States. The USDA NASS numbers were recently released and show the number of farms down but the number of acres per farm up by 1.
Greg Matli is the State Statistician of the USDA, NASS, Indiana Field Office. He says it’s no surprise what has been happening with farm ownership.
He adds there have been occasional exceptions, but almost every year for a century the number of farms has declined from the previous year.
“For the majority of the time period if we go back to 1917 and 100 years we see just a continual decline in the number of farms. In 1917 we had 209,000 farms. In 1974 it was the last time we had 100,00 farms. Then we lost 6,000 farms that very next year to drop under 100,000.”
The number of farms in the United States in 2016 was 2.06 million, down 8,000 farms from 2015. Matli says the Indiana drop last year is fairly consistent with recent losses.
“You know we’re not losing a thousand and 2,000 farms like we did back in the 70’s and 80’s, but the last several years we’re losing 2-300, 400 farms. So it’s average for the latest cycle.”
The average size farm in Indiana was 256 acres per farm, up 1 acre from 2015. Matli says the one acre annual increase is typical that last five years. The national average farm size in 2016 was 442 acres, up 1 acre from the previous year.
Indiana land in farms was estimated to be 14.7 million acres, unchanged from last year. Nationally total land in farms, at 911 million acres, decreased 100,000 acres from 2015.
NASS describes a farm as having at least $1,000 in annual sales: A farm is defined as any establishment from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold during the year. The $1,000 threshold can be met by any combination of sales and government payments. Land in farms includes: crop and livestock acreage, wasteland, woodland, pasture, land in summer fallow, idle cropland, land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, and other set-aside or commodity acreage programs.