Farm typology

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The USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) has developed a farm typology, or farm classification, that divides the 2.1 million U.S. farms into 8 mutually exclusive and relatively homogeneous groups:

  1. limited resource farms
  2. retirement farms
  3. residential/lifestyle farms
  4. farming occupation/lower sales
  5. farming occupation/high sales
  6. large family farms
  7. very large family farms
  8. nonfamily farms.

Also, the eight categories can be collapsed into 3:

  1. rural residence farms
  2. intermediate farms
  3. commercial farms

Data for 2003 indicate that Commercial farms, those having sales of $250,000 or more annually, constitute 9% of all farms and account for 72% of production. Intermediate farms, constituting 24% of all farms, account for 19% of production. The largest number of farms, characterized as rural residence farms, constitute 68% of all farms and account for 8% of production.

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 This article incorporates public domain material from the Congressional Research Service document "Report for Congress: Agriculture: A Glossary of Terms, Programs, and Laws, 2005 Edition" by Jasper Womach.

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