WASHINGTON Feb 4 There are nearly 76,000 more
U.S. farms than a few years ago but new operations tend to be
smaller, more diversified and have lower sales than the average
farm, according to Agriculture Department data released on
A USDA census taken every five years found 4 percent more
farms in 2007 than in 2002. There were fewer middle-size farms
and markedly more farms that were small or very large.
"I don't think it's just a statistical anomaly that smaller
farms have increased in number," Agriculture Secretary Tom
Vilsack told USDA employees.
He said the increase was largely the result of efforts to
encourage organic farming, boost land stewardship, improve
productivity per acre and create opportunities in development
of renewable energy.
"All of that suggests the chance for profitability," said
Overall, there were 2,204,792 farms in the United States, a
net increase of 75,810 farms since the 2002 census.
The number of smaller farms with sales of less than $2,500,
rose by 73,769 to 900,327 while large farms with sales of
$100,000 or higher increased by 45,771 to 357,159 from 2002 to
While Vilsack noted the favorable increase among small and
large farmers, he said he was "deeply concerned" about the drop
among middle-sized operations. Operations generating income
between $2,500 and $99,999 all posted declines in the number of
farms compared to 2002.
"This is an issue that we have to deal with," he said,
noting mid-size farmers could benefit from programs relating to
climate change, such as carbon sequestration, and alternative
The census report also showed the concentration of
agriculture production has increased during the last five
years. In 2007, 125,000 farms were responsible for 75 percent
of the value of U.S. agricultural production compared to
144,000 farms in 2002 for the same share.
(Reporting by Christopher Doering; Editing by David