ic Growth OccursThe Trend Towards Fewer and Larger Farms as Economic Growth Occurs
The structure of US agriculture has been shaped towards less but the
farms are larger. In the early times of this country, people could make a
living on the 160 acres they had received from The Homestead Act of 1862. This
act gave families clear titles to 160 acres if they had lived on it for five
years. Though in today’s changing world farmers have been forced to increase
the sites of their operations or go out of the farming business. The farming
business is a way of life to most of those who do it and do not want to quit
doing it now but with the off of the farm incomes increasing all of the time it
is making farmers change their way of life.
The Agriculture Economics and Agribusiness textbook, sixth addition,
says that there are three classifications of farms by economic size. The first
classification is the expanding sector . This sector sales more than $100,000
per year of farm products, it is 16% of the farms in the US. It also produces
80% of all of the farm outputs or products in the US. The farms in this sector
produce nearly all of the farm products produced the US but are only contribute
to small parts of the farms in the US. The expanding sector of agriculture
numbered 271,000 farms in the 1980’s. This number increased to 326,000 farms by
1991. The off of the farm income of this sector is only $20,847 per farm. The
total income per farm averaged $180,276 per year. This sectors main income
comes from farming and very little of its income comes from off of the farm jobs.
This sector is growing because there is becoming more big farms that produce
most of our food.
The second sector is called the declining sector. This sector includes
the farms that sold products between $20,000 and $99,000 worth of products a
year. Those farms decreased from 637,000 in 1980 to 549,000 in 1991. These
farms produced only 16%of the total farming output. The income for those farms
operators averaged $47,018 per farm in 1991. This used to be the most popular
sector of farming people made there living off of small farms like this but
within the last 20 years this sector has decreased growth and is decreasing more
all the time. These small farms are either being bought out by the larger farms
or the owners of these farms could not make a living at it. With the declining
of this sector, it is leading more people to off of the farm jobs and is
decreasing the agricultural world.
The third sector of the three is the noncommercial farms, or the hobby
farmers. These farms totaled 1,229,000 in the US in 1991. They produce a very
small percentage of the products produced in the US. This sector total income
equals $35,163 per year. Over 100% of this income comes from off of the farm
jobs. This income equaled $35,206 a year on the average, this sector loses $43
a year in the farming business. These people do not mind taking the loss
because they have other jobs and just farm as a hobby, part time or retirement
The farming world has changed a great deal in the past twenty years with
new technology one person can do more so the size of the farms keeps growing.
Although, with all of the cost of this technology, the small farms cannot
compete with the big ones. Therefore, there are more and more of these farms
going out of business.
The three sectors of farming I talked about earlier covers all farms in
the US. The first sector is growing because it takes more land and capitol to
make a living from this day in time than it did in years past. The second one
is getting smaller all the time because the small farmers like this cannot make
a living still and are selling out to the large farms and moving to town. This
group hurts the second sector because they do not mind taking losses by selling
their products for less, they just farm for fun . The farms in the US are
getting fewer but the size of these farms are growing. I think in the next
twenty years we will see fewer farms but the sizes will be comparatively larger
than they are today.