Factory Farms

Factory farm is a term used to refer to larger-scale farms. Did you know that most American farms and ranches are still family farms, and many have been in their family for generations? According to the USDA, most farms in the United States—98 percent in 2003—are family farms. Family farms and ranches are just like other small family businesses, Dad might serve as CEO, Mom as CFO and the kids fulfill roles in marketing and operations. They are organized as proprietorships, partnerships, or family corporations. Even the largest farms tend to be family farms, their success and growth often coming from a true passion for agriculture and a desire to work hard to help feed the world. Very large family farms account for a small share of farms but a large—and growing—share of farm sales.

Farmers and ranchers make up less than 2% of the population and they work hard everyday to feed the world. America’s farmers are the world’s most productive. Today, each U.S. farmer produces enough food and fiber for 144 people, compared to only 19 in 1940. The average size of a U.S. farm today is approximately 450 acres, much less than decades ago. Today’s farmers and ranchers are doing more with less. Technology has enabled agriculture to become more efficient and continue to feed the world, producing more food on less land. Land use in the United States today looks much different than it did a century ago.

  • Cropland- 20%
  • Grassland, pasture and range – 26%
  • Forest-use land – 29%
  • Special Uses – 13%
  • Miscellaneous Land – 10%
  • Urban Land – 3%

Did You Know?

Large or small farms, near a city or in remote county, almost all farms share one thing in common: they are family-owned and operated.