96% of farms family owned

A new report by the USDA says 96 percent of farms in the 2017 Census of Agriculture are family-owned.

Of the two million farms participating in the census, USDA says small family farms, or those grossing less than $350,000 per year, make up nearly 90 percent of all farms, represent slightly less than half of the total land in farms, and make up nearly 20 percent of all ag products sold.

Large-scale family farms, grossing more than $1 million make up less than three percent of all farms, but produce more than 40 percent of the value of ag products.

Those in the middle, or mid-sized farms, represent five percent of all farms and 20 percent of the value of ag products.

Mary Waldron, whose family was recently recognized as Michigan Master Farmers, currently works with the fourth, fifth, and sixth generations of her family.  She tells Brownfield the farm has grown along with the family. “To watch the kids grow and learn, see them do new things, that really gets to you, it’s very touching,” she says.

The majority of small family farms raise cattle or other crops while large-scale family farms are more than like to produce dairy or specialty crops.

The total number of family farms declined by four percent since the 2012 Census with the largest declines seen in large and mid-sized operations.

The Farm Typology report examines the demographics of farms and ranches in the latest census and their impact on economies and communities.

The USDA defines a “family-farm” as any farm where the majority of the business is owned by the producer and individuals related to the producer.

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