Sharp decline in US family farms - new data reveals

Feb 14, 2024


The 2022 Census of Agriculture, released by the USDA, has raised alarms across the United States with its revelation of a substantial decrease in both the number of family farms and the total farm acreage.  Compared to the 2017 census, there are 141,733 fewer farms, and the agricultural land has shrunk by over 20 million acres. 

AFBF President Zippy Duvall expressed that the census figures confirm the longstanding concerns of the farming community. Factors such as increased regulations, rising supply costs, labor shortages, and weather-related disasters have created severe economic pressures on farmers, making it difficult for many to sustain their operations.  

Duvall stressed the importance of family farms to the national economy and food security, urging Congress to pass a new farm bill that tackles these issues head-on. This legislation should aim to foster a welcoming environment for new entrants and support the transition of farms across generations. 

Despite the dark overall picture, there is a silver lining with the increase in beginning farmers. The aging farmer population remains a concern, with nearly 1.3 million farmers at or beyond retirement age compared to just 300,000 under the age of 35.  

The AFBF advocates for policy support to encourage and sustain new and young farmers, emphasizing farm bill programs designed for their success. 

This downturn in the farming sector calls for immediate action to secure the future of agriculture in the United States, ensuring food security and economic stability for generations to come. 

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