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February 12, 2009

2008 Missouri Farms Increase Slightly in Number

(COLUMBIA, MO) - “Missouri farm numbers are estimated at 108,000, up slightly from a revised 2007 number of 107,800,” said Gene Danekas, Director of the USDA-Missouri Agricultural Statistics Service. “Last year’s number was revised upward because we found more farms during the 2007 Census of Agriculture, especially small farms.” 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 29.1 million acres with an average farm size of 269 acres.

Missouri farms in the economic sales class of $1,000 to $9,999 are estimated at 57,700. Farms in the sales group of $10,000 to $99,999 totaled 38,000. The $100,000 to $249,000 group is estimated at 5,700. Farms in the sales groups of $250,000 to $499,000 totaled 2,900, while farms with sales of $500,000 and over totaled 3,700.

The 2007 Census includes some new ways to look at the State’s agriculture. For 2007, Missouri’s farms were categorized by typology, the type of farm by operator status. Missouri’s 107,825 farms are made up of 40 percent lifestyle farms while 21 percent are categorized as retirement farms. These two largest categories account for 13 percent of all agricultural sales. Non-family corporations and other non-family type farms make up less than 4 percent of all farms.

2008 Number of Farms and Land in Farms Highlights

The number of farms in the United States in 2008 is estimated at 2.2 million, 0.2 percent fewer than in 2007. Total land in farms, at 919.9 million acres, decreased 1.56 million acres, or 0.2 percent, from 2007. The average farm size was 418 acres, unchanged 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 slightly in the $1,000-$9,999, $10,000-$99,999, and $100,000-$249,999 sales classes. Farm numbers rose slightly in the two largest sales classes. Because of strong commodity prices and rising value of sales many farms and ranches near the top of their sales class in 2007 may have moved into the next higher sales class in 2008 without expanding their operations.

The largest percentage changes from 2007 occurred in the smallest and largest sales classes. Farm numbers declined 0.5 percent, to 1.22 million farms, in the $1,000-$9,999 sales class. Meanwhile, the number of farms in the $500,000 and over sales class increased by 4.8 percent to 126,000 farms. The number of farms with less than $100,000 in sales fell 0.6 percent from 2007 while the number of farms with $100,000 or more in sales rose 1.6 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 1.1 percent, to 106.7 million acres, while land operated by farms in the largest sales class, $500,000 & over in sales, increased 2.4 percent, to 293.1 million acres.

The average farm size was unchanged in 2008. However, average farm sizes declined in some of the sales classes. This may have been due to smaller farms moving up to higher sales classes.