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The Changing Organization and Well-Being of Midsize U.S. Farms, 1992-2014


  • Burns, Christopher
  • Kuhns, Ryan


This study uses data from the Census of Agriculture and the Agricultural Resource Management Survey to investigate the well-being and changing organization of U.S. midsize farms from 1992 to 2014. During this period, changes in midsize farms reflect a farm economy experiencing rapid technological development, rising costs of produc - tion, and the increasing profitability of larger farms. While the number of midsize farm operations has declined slightly since 1992, they constituted 21 percent of total production in 2014. During the study period, total production on midsize farms has shifted toward grain and oilseed crops, hogs, and poultry and away from dairy and high-value crops. The households operating midsize farms have been transformed as well, enjoying more diversified income portfolios and much higher net worth. Moreover, midsize farms have less debt relative to their assets. Using census data from 2007 and 2012, the authors find that one-third of midsize farms saw their income increase or decrease by more than 50 percent. During this same period, Government payments played a small but positive role in the survival of midsize cash-grain and oilseed farms. One common growth pathway for these farms that increased in size from 2007 to 2012 was renting greater amounts of land.

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  • Burns, Christopher & Kuhns, Ryan, 2016. "The Changing Organization and Well-Being of Midsize U.S. Farms, 1992-2014," Economic Research Report 262190, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:uersrr:262190
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.262190

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kimhi, Ayal & Bollman, Ray, 1999. "Family farm dynamics in Canada and Israel: the case of farm exits," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 21(1), pages 69-79, August.
    2. Patrick, Kevin & Kuhns, Ryan & Borchers, Allison, 2016. "Recent Trends in U.S. Farm Income, Wealth, and Financial Health," Choices: The Magazine of Food, Farm, and Resource Issues, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 31(1), pages 1-8, March.
    3. Nigel Key & Michael J. Roberts, 2006. "Government Payments and Farm Business Survival," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 88(2), pages 382-392.
    4. Key, Nigel D. & Roberts, Michael J., 2007. "Do Government Payments Influence Farm Size and Survival?," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 32(2), pages 1-19, August.
    5. C. Edwin Young & Paul C. Westcott, 2000. "How Decoupled Is U.S. Agricultural Support for Major Crops?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 82(3), pages 762-767.
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    Cited by:

    1. Key, Nigel, 2019. "Farm size and productivity growth in the United States Corn Belt," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 186-195.

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    Agricultural and Food Policy; Agricultural Finance; Farm Management; Industrial Organization;

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