Farms and land in farms

The number of farms and ranches in Montana in 2016 totaled 27,400, down 100 operations from the 2015 estimate. Total land in farms in Montana, at 59.7 million acres, was unchanged from the 2015 estimate. The average size of farm was 2,179 acres, compared to 2,171 acres the previous year.

United States
The number of farms in the United States for 2016 is estimated at 2.06 million, down 8,000 farms from 2015. Total land in farms, at 911 million acres, decreased one million acres from 2015. The average farm size for 2016 is 442 acres, up one acre from the previous year.
Farm numbers and land in farms are differentiated by six economic sales classes. Farms and ranches are classified into these six sales classes by summing the sales of agricultural products and government program payments. Sales class breaks occur at $10,000, $100,000, $250,000, $500,000, and $1,000,000. Producers were asked during the 2016 mid-year surveys to report the value of sales based on production during the 2015 calendar year.
Point Farms are farms that did not have the required minimum $1,000 in sales for the year to qualify as a farm, but had sufficient crops and livestock to normally have sales of $1,000 or more. Point Farms are assigned a sales class based on the sum of the agricultural point (dollar) values assigned to the quantity of commodities produced but not sold. The 2012 Census of Agriculture showed that 428,810 farms or 20.3 percent of the 2.11 million farms were Point Farms. These Point Farms operated 63.0 million acres or 6.9 percent of the 914.5 million acres of farmland.
Number of farms declined by 8,000 from 2015. The number of farms in Sales Class $250,000 - $499,999 increased while all other sales classes declined slightly. Fifty percent of all farms had less than $10,000 in sales. Eighty percent of all farms had less than $100,000 in sales. Eight percent of all farms had sales of $500,000 or more.
Land in farms, at 911 million acres, was down one million acres from 2015. The biggest changes for 2016 are that producers in Sales Class $250,000-$499,999 operated 1.29 million more acres and those in Sales Class $1,000,000 or more operated 1.01 million fewer acres. Similar to the previous year, in 2016 nearly 31 percent of all farmland was operated by farms with less than $100,000 in sales. Forty-one percent of all farmland was operated by farms with sales of $500,000 or more.
The average farm size continued to increase in 2016 as the number of farms declined more than land in farms. The overall average size increased by one acre to 442 acres per farm. Average farm sizes increased in the $10,000 - $99,999, $250,000 - $499,999, and $500,000 - $999,999 sales classes and decreased in the others.
USDA’s definition of a farm is “any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the year.” Government payments are included in sales. Ranches, institutional farms, experimental and research farms, and Indian Reservations are included as farms. Places with the entire acreage enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, and other government conservation programs are counted as farms.
The definition of a farm was first established in 1850 and has changed nine times since. The current definition was first used for the 1974 Census.
Land in farms consists of agricultural land used for crops, pasture, or grazing. Also included is woodland and wasteland not actually under cultivation or used for pasture or grazing, provided it was part of the farm operator’s total operation. Land in farms includes acres in CRP, WRP, and other government conservation programs.
For a full copy of the Farms and Land in Farms report please visit For Montana questions please contact Eric Sommer (800) 835-2612.



How much time do you spend using a computer or smart phone during a typical day?