Number of Farms Down, But Size is Up

By Chris Adams

Is bigger better? When it comes to the farm economy, an expert from the Union of Concerned Scientists says no – because of what society loses in the process.

Ricardo Salvador is the director of the Food and Environment Program at the advocacy organization. He led National Press Foundation fellows through the growth of farms over the decades, and what the U.S. Department of Agriculture has – and hasn’t – done to support the trend toward bigger and bigger ag.

Why is this important? USDA in the past supported subsidy policies that encouraged farmers to plant some crops over others, leading to distortions in the kind of crops grown.

Salvador pointed journalists to other resources:

  • The Agricultural Resource Management Survey, a USDA program that collects information on agricultural resource usage and cost, and on farm sector financial conditions.
  • The USDA New Farmers program, which seeks to support many of the kinds of farmers that didn’t get much help from the agency in decades past.

Work by the Union of Concerned Scientists on ag issues, including its views on industrial agriculture, genetically modified organisms and what it calls the nation’s “unhealthy food policy.”


This program is funded by Monsanto, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Pork Board, and the Organic Trade Association. NPF is solely responsible for the content.

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