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|
|$500,000 and up||3300||100|
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.