Agriculture Fact Book 2001-2002 by Ann M. Veneman

By Ann M. Veneman

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A farm typology developed by USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) categorizes farms into more homogeneous groups than classifications based on sales volume alone. ) Figure 3-5 Distribution of farms and farm product sales, by business organization, 1978-97 Nonfamily corporation share of farms and sales is stable Percent of farms 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 1978 82 87 Farm Other1 Partnership 92 97 1978 Nonfamily corporation Sole proprietorship 82 87 92 Farm product sales 97 Family corporation 1Includes cooperatives, estates or trusts, and institutional farms.

Large farms increased their numbers by 53,000, growing from 104,000 in 1982 to 157,000 by 1997. The share of all farms in this group also grew, from 5 percent to 8 percent over the same period. Most farms in the large farm group had sales between $250,000 and $499,999, but the number of farms with sales of at least $500,000 grew more rapidly (table 3-1). Figure 3-3 Distribution of farms with 500 acres or more by sales class, 1997 Farms with large acreages do not necessarily have large sales Thousand farms 400 350 $250,000 or more Less than $250,000 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 500 acres or more 1,000 to 1,999 acres 500 to 999 acres Acreage class 2,000 acres or more 500 to 999 acres 1,000 to 1,999 acres Acreage class 2,000 acres or more Percent of farms 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 500 acres or more $250,000 or more $10,000 to $49,000 $100,000 to $249,999 Less than $10,000 Source: Compiled by ERS from Census of Agriculture data.

Economy enjoyed an unprecedented period of economic growth. Rural areas generally shared in the good economic times, as earnings and income increased and unemployment and poverty fell. The rural population grew as urban residents and immigrants chose to live in rural areas; almost 8 percent of nonmetro counties, many in the West, increased in population at more than twice the national average. Still, areas of the Great Plains and western Corn Belt lost population as they wrestled with declining agricultural employment and the lack of replacement jobs in other industries.

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