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January 31, 2006

2005 Missouri Farm Numbers Decline

"Missouri farm numbers, estimated at 105,000, are down slightly from last year," said Gene Danekas, Director of the USDA-Missouri Agricultural Statistics Service. "The complexion of Missouri agriculture has and continues to change, while life economic conditions and lifestyle choices are the major contributors to the decline." A farm is defined as "any establishment from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were sold or would be sold during the year." Missouri ranks second in total number of farms, following Texas. Total land in Missouri farms is estimated at 30.1 million acres with an average farm size of 287 acres.

Missouri farms in the economic sales class of $1,000 to $9,999 are estimated at 57,900, down 2 percent from a year earlier. Farms in the sales group of $10,000 to $99,999 totaled 36,100, down slightly from 2004. The $100,000 to $249,000 group is estimated at 6,400, up 200 farms from last year. Farms in the sales groups of $250,000 to $499,000 totaled 2,700, up slightly from 2004, while farm with sales of $500,000 and over totaled 1,900, up from 1,800 in 2004.

Number of Farms and Land in Farms 2005 Summary

The number of farms in the United States in 2005 is estimated at 2.1 million, 0.6 percent fewer than in 2004. Total land in farms, at 933.4 million acres, decreased 2.9 million acres, or 0.3 percent, from 2004. The average farm size was 444 acres during 2005, an increase of one acre from the previous year. The decline in the number of farms and land in farms reflects a continuing consolidation in farming operations and diversion of agricultural land to nonagricultural uses.

Farm numbers and land in farms are broken down into five economic sales classes. Farms and ranches are classified into these "sales classes" by summing their sales of agricultural products and government program payments. Sales class breaks occur at $10,000, $100,000, $250,000, and $500,000.

Farm numbers declined in the three smallest sales classes and rose in the two largest sales classes. Part of the decline in the smaller sales classes was due to normal attrition, such as retirements. In addition, some operations transferred to larger sales classes by enterprise expansion. However, the majority of the changes in the sales classes were likely due to rising incomes. Many farms and ranches near the top of their sales class in 2004 moved into the next higher sales class in 2005 without adding land or otherwise expanding their operations.

The largest percentage changes from 2004 occurred in the smallest and largest sales classes. Farm numbers declined 1.1 percent, to 1.17 million farms, in the $1,000 - $9,999 sales class. Meanwhile, farm numbers increased 3.8 percent, to 79,410 farms, in the $500,000 or more sales class. The number of farms with less than $250,000 in sales fell 0.8 percent from 2004 and the number of farms with $250,000 or more in sales rose 2.4 percent.

Land in farms also shifted from lower sales classes to higher sales classes. In the $1,000-$9,999 sales class, land in farms dropped 2.1 percent, to 118.4 million acres, while land operated by farms in the largest sales class, $500,000 or more in sales, increased 3.0 percent, to 209.9 million acres. Farms with under $250,000 in sales operated 571.3 million acres, or 1.7 percent fewer acres than 2004. Farmers in the two largest sales classes, representing operations with sales of $250,000 or more, operated 362.2 million acres, up 2.0 percent from 2004.

Over all, the average farm size increased in 2005. However, average farm sizes declined in the sales classes due to smaller farms moving up to higher sales classes.

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