August 5, 2004
Fewer and Larger Farms in North Dakota
According to the 2002 Census of Agriculture, the number of farms in North Dakota fell to 30,619 in 2002, a 5.3 percent decline from 32,348 in 1997. During the same time, average farm size rose from 1,227 acres to 1,283 acres, a 4.6 percent increase.
This month’s “Population Bulletin,” a monthly publication from the North Dakota State Data Center at North Dakota State University, focuses on recently released farm data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service, http://www.usda.gov/nass. Between 1997 and 2002, North Dakota saw the largest decline in farms among those averaging 1,000 to 1,999 acres (a loss of 1,554 farms). The second largest loss was among those farms averaging 500 to 999 acres (a loss of 1,266 farms).
The number of larger farms, those with 2,000 acres or more, grew by 427. The number of farms averaging less than 260 acres grew by 938. “The trend shows that mid-sized farm operators are the ones who are struggling the most in North Dakota,” says Richard Rathge, State Data Center director. “Between 1997 and 2002, we lost more than 20 percent of the farms in the 500 to 1,999 acre category. These farms accounted for 42 percent of all farms in 1997. The farm profile in North Dakota is becoming more dominated by large and small operators.”
In 2002, 44 percent of all farms had fewer than 500 acres and represented only 7 percent of total acres in farming. In contrast, 21 percent of the farms in the state were larger than 2,000 acres and accounted for 62 percent of total acres.
Five counties throughout North Dakota experienced losses of 100 farms or more between 1997 and 2002: Ward (-296), Richland (-149), Pembina (-129), McLean (-125) and Mountrail (-125).
While many North Dakota counties showed sizeable losses in the number of farms over the last five years, 16 of North Dakota’s 53 counties showed an increase in the number of farms. The largest increase was in Walsh County with a gain of 100 farms, followed by Nelson County with a gain of 92.
Click here for an Adobe Acrobat file of this publication. (239 Kb pdf)