March 11, 2004

Missouri Farms Numbers Continue To Decline

“Farm numbers continue to decline in Missouri,” says Marlowe Schlegel, State Statistician. Current numbers at 106,000 farms compare with 138,000 thirty years ago. “The complexion of Missouri agriculture has and continues to change.”

Economic conditions and lifestyle choices are the major contributors to the decline. The number of Missouri farms in 2003 was estimated at 106,000, down 1,000 farms from a year earlier. The average farm size in Missouri during 2003 is estimated at 285 acres, up 3 acres from a year ago.

A farm is defined as “any establishment from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were sold or would normally be sold during the year.”

Total land in Missouri farms is estimated at 30.2 million acres, the same as the previous year.

Missouri farms in the economic sales class of $1,000 to $9,999 are estimated at 59,600, down slightly from a year earlier.

Farms in the sales group of $10,000 to $99,999 totaled 36,100, down 2 percent from last year.

The $100,000 to $499,000 group is estimated at 8,600, down slightly from 2002, while farms with sales of $500,000 and over totaled 1,700, the same as 2002.

The number of farms in the United States in 2003 is estimated at 2.13 million, 0.4 percent fewer than in 2002. The decline in farms occurred in all sales categories except the $250,000-$499,999 class which remained unchanged.

Total land in farms, at 938.8 million acres, decreased 1,550,000 acres from 2002. The average size farm during 2003 was 441 acres, an increase of one acre from the previous year.

The decline in the number of farms and land in farms continues to reflect consolidation in farming operations and competition for agricultural land for other uses.

The U.S. number of agricultural operations in the economic sales class $1,000-$9,999 declined 0.2 percent to 1,199,270 in 2003. Farms with

sales of $10,000-$99,999 decreased 0.7% from 2002 to 600,530. The number of farms with $100,000-$249,999 in sales was 167,230, a decline of 0.9 percent. In the $250,000-$499,999 sales class, the number of farms was unchanged from the previous year. The number of agricultural operations with $500,000 or more of sales declined 0.4% from 2002.

Generally favorable weather, stronger commodity prices, higher value of commodities produced, farm consolidation, and competition for other uses of farmland contributed to the shifting of farms among the sales categories.

The number of farms in 2003 declined in 20 states, remained unchanged in 28 states, and increased in two states. The largest decline in farms occurred in California, which lost 1,200 places followed by Missouri with 1,000. Other notable declines were: Minnesota and Nebraska, 900; Indiana, 800; North Carolina, 700; Iowa, 600; and Tennessee, Washington, and Wisconsin each losing 500 farms. For the two states with increased

farm numbers, Mississippi added 600 and Montana 100 places.

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