The number of farms in the U.S. is on the decline. A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, finds that farm ownership has fallen steadily since the mid-1930s. In 1935, the number of farms was at an all-time high of 6.8 million, falling sharply through the 1970s. This decline slowed by 1982, however, farm ownership had reached 2 million by 2022, down 2.2 million from 2007. 

The available acreage has also fallen to 893 million in 2022, down from 915 million in 2012. Farm size rose slightly from 440 acres in the 1970s to 446 acres by 2022.

Experts believe technological advancements are having a greater impact on the farm sector, with less land and labor required to run the average U.S. farm, while output has tripled between 1948 and 2019.

In the November 2023 Farm Income Forecast it was noted that net farm income is forecast to hit $151.1 billion in 2023, a decrease of $31.8 billion or 17 percent relative to 2022. The fall in overall profits is attributed to lower profits, lower direct government payments, and higher production expenses. 

Gross cash farm income before expenses has risen significantly since 2002, climbing from $355 billion to $575 billion in 2023.  Meanwhile, net farm income will reach $188 billion in 2022 but is expected to decrease by 20 percent in 2023. 

Small family farms make up 88 percent of all U.S. farms, while accounting for only 3 percent of overall farms and 52 percent of production value. Most family farms earn less than $350,000 in gross cash annually, with more farms relying on off-farm income sources. The median large-scale farm earned nearly $506,000 in 2022.

“Since farm and off-farm income are not distributed identically for every farm, median total income will generally not equal the sum of median off-farm and median farm income,” the report stated.