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2006 numbers fo farms and land in farms highlight

The number of farms in the United States in 2006 is estimated at 2.09 million, 0.4 percent fewer than in 2005. Total land in farms, at 932.4 million acres, decreased 780 thousand acres, or 0.08 percent, from 2005. The average farm size was 446 acres during 2006, an increase of one acre from the previous year. The decline in the number of farms and land in farms reflects a continuing consolidation in farming operations and diversion of agricultural land to nonagricultural uses.

Farm numbers and land in farms are broken down into five economic sales classes. Farms and ranches are classified into these "sales classes" by summing their sales of agricultural products and government program payments. Sales class breaks occur at $10,000, $100,000, $250,000, and $500,000.

Farm numbers declined in the $1,000-$9,999 and the $100,000 - $249,999 sales classes. Farm numbers rose slightly in the $10,000 - $99,999 and the two largest sales classes. The decline in the smallest sales class is most likely due to normal attrition, such as retirements, and rising incomes. The changes within the other sales classes were a result of operations moving to larger sales classes by consolidation and expansion. Because of rising incomes, many farms and ranches near the top of their sales class in 2005 moved into the next higher sales class in 2006 without adding land or otherwise expanding their operations.

The largest percentage changes from 2005 occurred in the smallest and largest sales classes. Farm numbers declined 1.1 percent, to 1.15 million farms, in the $1,000 - $9,999 sales class. Meanwhile, farm numbers increased 2.4 percent, to 81,350 farms, in the $500,000 & over sales class. The number of farms with less than $100,000 in sales fell 0.6 percent from 2005 and the number of farms with $100,000 or more in sales rose 0.7 percent.

Land in farms also shifted from lower sales classes to higher sales classes. In the $1,000-$9,999 sales class, land in farms dropped 3.0 percent, to 114.7 million acres, while land operated by farms in the largest sales class, $500,000 & over in sales, increased 1.7 percent, to 213.4 million acres.

Over all, the average farm size increased 1 acre in 2006. However, average farm sizes declined in some of the sales classes due to smaller farms moving up to higher sales classes.

This report also contains estimates of farm numbers and land in farms for Puerto Rico. The number of farms with sales of $1,000 or more in Puerto Rico was 13,600 in 2006, unchanged from 2005. Land in farms, at 610,000 acres, also remained unchanged from the previous year. The average farm size in Puerto Rico in 2006 was estimated at 45 acres.

Livestock Operations 2006 Summary

The number of operations with cattle totaled 971,400 during 2006, down 1 percent from 2005 and 2 percent below 2004. Beef cow operations in 2006 were down 1 percent from 2005 and 2 percent below 2004. Milk cow operations were 4 percent below last year and 8 percent below two years ago.

The three operation classes: cattle, beef cows, and milk cows, are classified into size groups independently. Therefore, it is possible to have more beef cow operations in a particular size group than cattle operations. As an example, an operator with 75 cattle and 40 beef cows would be classified in the 50-99 size group for cattle and 1-49 size group for beef cows.

The number of operations with hogs totaled 65,540 during 2006, down 3 percent from 2005 and 6 percent from 2004. Places with 2,000 or more head accounted for 80 percent of the inventory.

The number of operations with sheep totaled 69,090 during 2006, up 1 percent from 2005 and up 2 percent from 2004. Of all sheep operations that include breeding sheep, 90.8 percent were comprised of 1-99 head, 7.6 percent had 100-499 head, and the remaining 1.6 percent were operations with 500 head or more. Operations with 1-99 head account for 28.7 percent of the inventory, 100-499 head account for 24.0 percent of the inventory, and 500+ head account for 47.3 percent of the inventory.

This report contains annual estimates of Puerto Rico livestock operations. Operations with cattle and calves were 4,300, unchanged from 2005; operations with beef cows were 2,800, unchanged from 2005; operations with milk cows were 1,600, unchanged from 2005; operations with hogs were 1,500, unchanged from 2005; and operations with sheep were 800, unchanged from the previous year.