The total number of farms in Iowa in 2017 was 86,900 — down 100 farms compared to the year before. That’s the latest official number, according to USDA’s recently released Farms and Land in Farms 2017 Summary report. The figures are based on the government’s annual survey.
Farms and ranches are classified in “sales classes” by USDA, by summing the sales of agricultural products and government program payments, says Greg Thessen, director of the regional office for USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service in Des Moines.
The largest decrease in number of farms in Iowa in 2017 came in the class range from $500,000 to $999,999, with a decrease of 300 farms. There were 10,000 of these farms in 2016 and 9,700 in 2017.
Average farm size in Iowa unchanged
The total amount of land in farms in Iowa in 2017 was 30.5 million acres, unchanged since 2014. However, total land in farms in the $100,000-to-$249,999 sales class range rose to 3 million acres, while total land in farms in the $1 million and over range fell to 9.5 million acres.
The average farm size in Iowa in 2017 was 351 acres, unchanged from the previous year. The average farm size in the $500,000-to-$999,999 range increased 28 acres, rising from 890 acres in 2016 to 918 acres in 2017.
Number of U.S. farms
The number of farms in the United States for 2017 is estimated at 2.05 million, down 12,000 farms from 2016. Total land in farms at 910 million acres, decreased 1 million acres from 2016. The average farm size for 2017 is 444 acres, up 2 acres from the previous year.
Farm numbers and land in farms are differentiated by six economic sales classes. Farms and ranches are classified into these six sales classes by adding the sales of agricultural products and government program payments.
Sales class breaks occur at $10,000; $100,000; $250,000; $500,000; and $1 million. Producers were asked during the 2017 midyear surveys to report the value of sales based on production during the 2016 calendar year.
USDA defines “point farms” as farms that did not have the required minimum $1,000 in sales for the year to qualify as a farm. But these farms had sufficient crops and livestock to normally have sales of $1,000 or more.
Point farms are assigned a sales class based on the sum of the agricultural point (dollar) values assigned to the quantity of commodities produced but not sold. The 2012 Census of Agriculture showed that 428,810 farms, or 20.3%, of the 2.11 million farms were point farms. These point farms operated 63 million acres, or 6.9%, of the 914.5 million acres of farmland.
The total number of farms in the U.S. declined by 12,000 in 2017 from 2016. The number of farms in sales classes $100,000 to $249,999 and $1 million or more increased, while all other sales classes declined. Of all farms in the U.S. last year, 50% had less than $10,000 in sales. And 80% of all farms had less than $100,000 in sales. Of all farms in the U.S., 8% had sales of $500,000 or more.