97 Per Cent of All US Farms Are Family-Owned

US - The US Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reports that family-owned farms remain the backbone of the agriculture industry.
calendar icon 19 March 2015
clock icon 3 minute read

The latest data come from the Census of Agriculture farm typology report and help shine light on the question, "What is a family farm?"

"As we wrap up mining the six million data points from the latest Census of Agriculture, we used typology to further explore the demographics of who is farming and ranching today," said NASS Statistics Division Director Hubert Hamer.

"What we found is that family-owned businesses, while very diverse, are at the core of the US agriculture industry. In fact, 97 per cent of all US farms are family-owned."

The 2012 Census of Agriculture Farm Typology report is a special data series that primarily focuses on the "family farm."

By definition, a family farm is any farm where the majority of the business is owned by the operator and individuals related to the operator, including through blood, marriage, or adoption. Key highlights from the report include the following five facts about family farms in the United States:

Five Facts to Know about Family Farms

1. Food equals family – 97 per cent of the 2.1 million farms in the United States are family-owned operations.

2. Small business matters – 88 per cent of all US farms are small family farms.

3. Local connections come in small packages – 58 per cent of all direct farm sales to consumers come from small family farms.

4. Big business matters too – 64 per cent of all vegetable sales and 66 per cent of all dairy sales come from the 3 per cent of farms that are large or very large family farms.

5. Farming provides new beginnings – 18 per cent of principal operators on family farms in the US started within the last 10 years.

"Whether small or large - on the East Coast, West Coast, or the Midwest - family farms produce food and fiber for people all across the US and the world," said Hamer.

"It's due in part to information such as this from the Census of Agriculture that we can help show the uniqueness and importance of US agriculture to rural communities, families, and the world."

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