USDA: small family farms producing mainly poultry and eggs, and hay

In 2020, most cotton (62%), dairy (73%) and specialty crops (57%) values ​​were produced on large-scale family farms. The USDA defines a family farm as one in which the principal operator and related family own the majority of the assets used in the operation.

Large-scale family farms are those with an annual gross farm income of $1 million or more. However, small family farms produced the bulk of hay production (59%) and poultry and egg production (49%) in 2020. Poultry farms are often classified as “small” because most production is governed by a production contract, with an entrepreneur paying a fee to a farmer who raises poultry to maturity.

Additionally, more than a quarter of beef production took place on small family farms that typically have cow and calf operations. Another 42 percent of beef production took place on large-scale family farms, which are more likely to operate feedlots. The production of medium-sized family farms varies from 8 to nearly 30% of the value of production. Non-family farms produce the smallest share of production value for most products.

Of all commodities, non-family farms contribute the most to specialty crop production at 27%.

This graph is found in the Economic Research Service report, America’s Diverse Family Farms: 2021 Edition, published in December 2021.

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