Large Farms Dominate Missouri Agriculture, 2022 Census Shows

Missouri's 2022 agricultural census shows a decline in the number of farms, with 3,502 large farms accounting for two-thirds of the state's $15 billion agricultural production. The census reveals a shift towards large-scale farming, with nearly half of farms having cattle and 18% growing soybeans.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Large Farms Dominate Missouri Agriculture, 2022 Census Shows

Large Farms Dominate Missouri Agriculture, 2022 Census Shows

The 2022 US agricultural census reveals a significant trend in Missouri's farming industry: the increasing concentration of production on the largest farms. Despite an overall decline in the number of farms statewide, a small percentage of large operations now account for the majority of the state's agricultural output.

Why this matters: The shift towards large-scale farming has significant implications for the state's agricultural sector, including potential consequences for small-scale farmers and the environment. As policymakers craft the next farm bill, understanding these trends will be crucial in shaping the future of Missouri's agricultural industry.

The census counted 87,887 farms in Missouri in 2022. While 63% of these farms had less than $25,000 in sales and government payments, representing just 2% of the state total, 3,502 farms surpassed $1 million and accounted for a staggering $10 billion - two-thirds of Missouri's $15 billion in agricultural production. The number of farms spanning 2,000 acres or more nearly doubled from 1,331 in 1997 to 2,454 in 2022.

The census data carries important implications for the ongoing farm bill debate. As large farms increasingly dominate production, there may be consequences for how farm bill programs and subsidies are structured and allocated in the future.

Almost half of Missouri farms had cattle in 2022, while 18% grew soybeans. The state's dairy industry has shrunk dramatically, with the number of farms with dairy cows plummeting by over 50% to 1,704 since 2002. Fruit and vegetable farms remain a small niche, accounting for less than 2% of operations.

Pat Westhoff, director of the University of Missouri's Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, noted that while farm programs are vital for grain, oilseed, cotton, and dairy producers, fewer Missouri farms are selling these commodities. He suggested there may be opportunities to boost the state's production of fruits, vegetables, and specialty crops.

The 2022 agricultural census underscores the evolving landscape of Missouri farming, with production increasingly concentrated on the largest operations. As policymakers craft the next farm bill, the shifting dynamics revealed by the census will likely shape the debate over how best to support the state's diverse agricultural sector.

Key Takeaways

  • Missouri's farm count declined, but large farms now produce 2/3 of the state's agricultural output.
  • 3,502 farms with $1M+ sales account for 2/3 of Missouri's $15B agricultural production.
  • Farms with 2,000+ acres nearly doubled from 1,331 in 1997 to 2,454 in 2022.
  • Almost half of Missouri farms have cattle, while 18% grow soybeans.
  • Production concentration may impact farm bill programs and subsidies in the future.