We've moved!

Social Icons

twitterfacebooklinkedinrss feed

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

South Dakota Farm Numbers Increase 0.6% in 2009

The number of farms in South Dakota increased last year. We added 200 farms, for a total of 31,500. The number increased 100 in 2008. These are the first increases in farm numbers since 1931, when South Dakota had 84,300 farms.

Two years of less than 1% increase don't exactly reverse the historical consolidation of farms. They could just be a statistical glitch caused by better counting methods, like the methodology refinement that increased the count of farms nationwide by 5.6% in the 2007 ag census. But Thomas Jefferson would agree that more people farming is good for the Republic. (Now if those new farmers just didn't have to buy all their seed from the Big Ag monopoly.)

The full USDA report breaks the farm numbers down by sales class:

sales class 2009 total change from 2008
$1000-$9999 9200 -200
$10,000-$99,999 9800 200
$100,000-$249,999 5000 -200
$250,000-$499,999 4200 300
$500,000 and up 3300 100
total 31500 200

The amount of land in farms remained the same, 43.7 million acres, or 90.0 percent of our land area.

Nationwide, the number of farms remained unchanged at just over 2.2 million. Eight states gained farms, but fifteen states lost farms. In our neighborhood, Montana gained 1% more farms; Nebraska lost 0.4% of its farms. Farm numbers everywhere else bordering South Dakota held steady.

I am pleased to note that nationally, small operations are still a big part of livestock production. Over two-thirds of our cattle and calves come from operations with fewer than 1000 head. Dairies with fewer than 1000 head still produce a majority of our milk. Small producers also account for a majority of the sheep inventory.

On the downside, 93.5% of hogs and pigs are on feedlots with a thousand head or more; 62% are in facilities with over 5000. That's 62% of production coming from just 2% of the hog operations.


  1. I looked at the 2002 and 2007 data on farm loss in SD counties. It's in a handy format on the SD Dep of Ag site, amoung other places of course. I used to live in Day County and farming is tough there, and sure enough that County shows a loss of farms. Clay county shows a loss of farmland and an even greater loss of farms 2002-2007 while Grant, where I live shows a healthy gain of farms in that period. It's very interesting that the consolidation of farms is taking a breather in some counties but not in others. We all want to know why.

  2. just a guess - but suspect some - if not most - of the increase in the higher sales groups are due to big farms getting bigger and bracket creeping up in the standings. I also suspect that some large operations, family based, break up each year as generations take over. Given the cost of entry, and the challenges to find affordable land, and the fact that your lower group dropped --- this is not likely much of what we might hope to see in terms of a repopulation and regeneration of smaller economic enterprises. That is probably wishful thinking while rowing up against the economic stream.

    --Lee Schoenbeck

    PS but interesting stats


Comments are closed, as this portion of the Madville Times is in archive mode. You can join the discussion of current issues at MadvilleTimes.com.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.