98% of America's Farms Are Family Farms Finds Report
61% Did Not Participate in Any Farm Program
July 7, 2006 â€“ In May 2006, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service (ERS) released a report that showed 98% of farms in the USA are family farms. The report titled, Structure and Finances of U.S. Farms: 2005 Family Farm Report, defined family farms as proprietorships, partnerships or family operations that do not have hired managers.
Though contracting has grown at a ''slow and steady rate'' over the years, the report indicated that the share of total agricultural production under contract grew by only 5 percentage points between 1994-1995 and 2003.
Average operating profit margins and average rates of return on assets and equity were negative for small farms, the report found, but positive for large, very large and non-family farms. Small farm households typically receive substantial off-farm income, the report revealed. The report also indicated that large and very large farms relied on average off-farm income of $30,000 a year to provide for their livelihood.
The study also discovered that 61% of all farms did not participate in any farm program in 2003. This finding clearly indicates that only a minority of farmers receive agricultural subsidies.
A final important finding of the report was that after combining farm and off-farm income, the median farm household income of $47,600 in 2003 was 10% greater than the median income of $43,300 for all American households. In more positive news, only operators of limited-resource and retirement farms had a median income below the national median. To view the entire report, click here.
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