Trends in U.S. Agriculture


The beginning of a new millennium seems an appropriate time to reflect on the dynamic changes in our Nation's agricultural sector over the past century. Nearly every aspect of production agriculture has changed shape to some degree. Many of these changes were the result of mechanical and biological advancements. Some were caused by U.S. involvement in wars. Still others were caused by economic and social conditions existing within our country.

We cannot hope to anticipate what is in store for U.S. agriculture in the future without a firm knowledge of what has taken place in the past. Far fewer people are living on farms and ranches today than a century ago. Though there are fewer farms now, most are still family owned. Commercial farms and ranches are larger and more specialized today, with U.S. production feeding more people than ever before, including families in other countries.

Our intent in this publication is to highlight some of the more memorable changes that took place in U.S. agriculture over the past century. We have by no means covered all the significant changes occurring during this time period but have touched on some of the factors we feel made U.S. farmers and ranchers among the most productive in the world. We hope the information in this publication helps you to better appreciate what has been accomplished in agriculture during the previous 100 years and to enjoy pondering what the next century may bring.

Last Modified: 05/04/2018