New data released Tuesday from USDA’s Economic Research Service shows the number of U.S. farms continues to decline slowly. After peaking at 6.8 million farms in 1935, the number of U.S. farms and ranches fell sharply through the early 1970s. Rapidly falling farm numbers in the mid-20th century reflected the growing productivity of agriculture and increased nonfarm employment opportunities.
Since then, the number of U.S. farms has continued to decline, but much more slowly. In 2021, there were 2.01 million U.S. farms, down from 2.20 million in 2007. With 895 million acres of farmland nationwide in 2021, the average farm size was 445 acres, only slightly greater than the 440 acres recorded in the early 1970s.
Meanwhile, technological developments in agriculture have influenced changes in the farm sector. Innovations have enabled continuing output growth without adding much to inputs. As a result, total farm output nearly tripled between 1948 and 2019.