Sunday, June 21, 2009

Corporate Farms, Family Farms in the USA

We have all heard about the disappearance of the family farm, and now there is the drumbeat of publicity leading to the new documentary "Food Inc. While there are some horror stories, generally, the family farm is not being displaced by corporate farms like Mao's Great Leap Forward. I spent a few minutes looking up the numbers.

This is data from the US Dept of Agriculture, showing that during the 17 years from 1990 to 2007, that the average farm has increased in size by 4.4%. This is hard to get upset about. Click the chart to enlarge it. Read this report for more.

Another USDA report shows that the number of farms with over 2000 acres has increased from 3.4% to 3.6% in the decade ending in 2007. There just does not seem to be that many giant farms out there, and their number is not dramatically increasing.

I graphed out the number of farms from the above report. Here it is as a number and as a percentage. The number of corporate farms just does not seem alarming to me.