USDA: Vast majority of farms are family owned

USDA: Vast majority of farms are family owned

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service issued its 2017 family farms report this month and to no one’s surprise, it showed that farming in Iowa and across the country is overwhelmingly comprised of family businesses, much as it’s always been.

The report shows that 99 percent of Iowa’s and the nation’s farms are owned by a family and non-family farms make up just 1 percent of the total.

The ERS classifies family farms as small, mid-size, large-scale and non-family. Small family farms are classified as those with less than $350,000 in gross cash farm income. Mid-size family operations are those with between $350,000 and $999,999. USDA considers large-scale family farms as those with more than $1 million in gross income.

Family farms of various types combined to account for 98.8 percent of the farms and 90 percent of the production in 2016. Large-scale family farms accounted for the greatest share of production at 45 percent. Small family farms make up 90 percent of the total and operate half of the farmland.

Large-scale family farms account for half of the hog production, 67 percent of the dairy production, 64 of the crop production and 39 percent of the beef output.

USDA reported that there were 87,000 farms in Iowa in 2016. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Century and Heritage farm totals shows that more than 19,350 Iowa farms have been owned by the same family for at least 100 years and 1,059 families have owned their farm for more than 150 years.