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Agriculture

Large Farms Are More Important Than Ever

farm_tractor_matthias_ripp_flickr.jpg
Matthias Ripp, flickr Creative Commons
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The number of small farms in the U.S. is growing, but “large farms” are increasingly important to our food system.

Today, what researchers call “large farms” make up just 4 percent of the total number of U.S. farms, but they produce more than half of the country’s agricultural goods.

And a new study by the Department of Agriculture found the number of large farms more than doubled during a recent two-decade period. The number of mid-sized farms is on the decline. Chris Burns worked on the report.

“There’s been a change in agriculture, for sure," Burns says. "More production is occurring on large farms. Advances in technology have led to more production occurring there because they have cost efficiencies.”

Advances in technology, like expensive combines and data analytics, mean large farms can churn out more profit per acre.

That means many farmers feel the pressure to grow their operations, or to drop out altogether.