States that have lost the most farms the last 100 years

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October 22, 2020
FotosForTheFuture // Shutterstock

States that have lost the most farms the last 100 years

Farms provide us with fresh and safe food, jobs, and agricultural trade. Despite this, the number of American farms decreased by half during the 1950s and 1960s, while farm size doubled. The effects were felt in some regions of the U.S. more than others.

Stacker compiled a list comparing agriculture in each state over the last 100 years using data from the 1920 Agriculture Census and most recent data as of Oct. 7, 2020 from the 2019 Census State Agriculture Summaries. States are ranked from those that gained the highest percentage of farms to those that lost the most.

The question is, why have the number of farms been decreasing? The introduction of technology that replaced horse-drawn plows proved both good and bad for farmers. While it allowed them to plow more land in less time, they basically plowed themselves, and those with small- to mid-sized farms, out of a sustainable living.

Those who were able to afford a large farm, and the technology that went along with it, flourished, while many farmers with small- to mid-sized operations were forced to sell or lease their farmland to larger operations. In 1973, President Nixon’s agriculture secretary Earl Butz told farmers to “get big, or get out,” encouraging producers to plant as much as possible on all the land they had.

In the 1980s, farmers were hit with another blow—the farm crisis. In the Federal Reserve’s attempt to bring down high interest rates, farmland values plummeted. At the same time, commodity prices fell due to overproduction. Farm debts rose and foreclosures ran rampant.

Meanwhile, urban development was picking up steam across the country, with millions of acres of farmland transitioning into low-density residential neighborhoods. Urban development, coupled with expanding technology, are just two of the reasons we continue to see the number of farms go down while the size of farms goes up.

Increasingly, farmers who are reaching retirement age also wrestle with the decision between handing down a farm to children or selling the land. If the farm isn’t profitable enough to hand down, they’ll often sell to a larger, neighboring producer.

It’s not all bad news for the farm industry. Smaller farms and micro-farms run by younger producers, while a small portion of the industry, continue to enter farming in increasing numbers. Many of them are especially interested in integrating new technology, agritourism, and organic farming techniques.

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#50. Alaska

- 1920
- Number of farms: 364
- Average farm size: 249 acres
- Total farm acres: 0.1 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 1,050 (+188.5% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 810 acres (+225.2% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 0.9 million (+837.7% from 1920)

Farming in Alaska has kicked into high gear due to climate change. As Alaska continues to warm at double the rate of the rest of the globe, growing seasons are stretching, and access to imported goods is becoming more limited. It’s now possible to grow crops such as corn and cherries, and the region’s extended daylight hours help make vegetables larger and sweeter.

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#49. Arizona

- 1920
- Number of farms: 9,975
- Average farm size: 582 acres
- Total farm acres: 5.8 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 19,000 (+90.5% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 1,379 acres (+137.1% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 26.2 million (+351.6% from 1920)

A diverse climate allows farmers in Arizona to harvest year round. Some farmers are able to grow different crops on the same land at different times of the year, thanks to forgiving weather and soil. In 2018, the Senate passed a bill allowing qualified applicants to grow and process industrial hemp on Arizona farms.

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#48. Hawaii

- 1920
- Number of farms: 5,284
- Average farm size: 511 acres
- Total farm acres: 2.7 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 7,300 (+38.2% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 151 acres (-70.5% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 1.1 million (-59.3% from 1920)

While some large Hawaiian farms have been sold in recent years, small farms are becoming more popular in Hawaii. The closure of large farms has also meant less farmworkers. The average age of farmers seems to be trending older, alongside an influx of younger farmers, which points to a growing interest in farming in the state.

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#47. Nevada

- 1920
- Number of farms: 3,163
- Average farm size: 748 acres
- Total farm acres: 2.4 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 3,350 (+5.9% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 1,821 acres (+143.3% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 6.1 million (+157.7% from 1920)

Drive past the casinos and you’ll find that Nevada has a thriving farming business. Cattle, sheep, and lamb are big in Nevada, with the agricultural crops—wheat and hay—designed to support the livestock. In recent years, farmers in Nevada have brought their added-value goods, such as bread and cheese, directly to the consumer, helping the business grow.

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#46. Florida

- 1920
- Number of farms: 54,005
- Average farm size: 112 acres
- Total farm acres: 6.0 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 47,400 (-12.2% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 205 acres (+83.1% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 9.7 million (+60.4% from 1920)

While imports from Mexico have been shown to negatively impact Florida's economy, the average farm size and total acreage are increasing in the Sunshine State. There are many crops to grow in Florida outside of oranges, namely sugar, corn, cucumbers, and flowers.

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#45. New Mexico

- 1920
- Number of farms: 29,844
- Average farm size: 818 acres
- Total farm acres: 24.4 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 24,800 (-16.9% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 1,613 acres (+97.2% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 40.0 million (+63.9% from 1920)

The number of minority and young farmers has been increasing in New Mexico over the past decade. With increasing growth, traditions and culture are still respected, while innovation is wholeheartedly embraced. Farmers throughout New Mexico now sell value-added specialty foods worldwide.

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#44. Wyoming

- 1920
- Number of farms: 15,748
- Average farm size: 750 acres
- Total farm acres: 11.8 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 12,000 (-23.8% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 2,417 acres (+222.3% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 29.0 million (+145.6% from 1920)

Wyoming boasts some of the largest farms in the country. Data shows that young Wyoming producers, aged 35 and under, have larger farms and earn more. Another big change is that 80% of the farms in Wyoming also have internet access.

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#43. Oregon

- 1920
- Number of farms: 50,206
- Average farm size: 270 acres
- Total farm acres: 13.5 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 37,200 (-25.9% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 425 acres (+57.6% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 15.8 million (+16.7% from 1920)

Small farms (less than 10 acres) are the fastest growing type in the state of Oregon. While the average farm size is 425 acres, half of all farms in the state are less than 20 acres in size.

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#42. Utah

- 1920
- Number of farms: 25,662
- Average farm size: 197 acres
- Total farm acres: 5.1 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 17,800 (-30.6% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 601 acres (+205.4% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 10.7 million (+111.9% from 1920)

The number of farms in Utah has decreased as farms have fallen prey to development over the years. Acreage has increased as many farmers moved locations, stopped growing fruits and vegetables, and focused on producing grains and proteins.

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#41. Colorado

- 1920
- Number of farms: 59,931
- Average farm size: 408 acres
- Total farm acres: 24.5 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 38,700 (-35.4% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 822 acres (+101.4% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 31.8 million (+30.0% from 1920)

Since the passing of the 2018 federal Farm Bill legalizing the growing of industrial hemp, the crop is now grown on more than 86,000 acres throughout Colorado. With 75% of the state’s farmland dedicated to raising cattle, a larger farm size can support business growth.

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#40. California

- 1920
- Number of farms: 117,670
- Average farm size: 250 acres
- Total farm acres: 29.4 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 69,900 (-40.6% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 348 acres (+39.4% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 24.3 million (-17.3% from 1920)

The number of farms in California has been affected by development, drought, and wildfires over the years. With milk and cattle being two of the top five commodities in the state, farms have grown larger to accommodate the large animals.

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#39. Idaho

- 1920
- Number of farms: 42,106
- Average farm size: 199 acres
- Total farm acres: 8.4 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 24,600 (-41.6% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 467 acres (+134.8% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 11.5 million (+37.3% from 1920)

Farmers have sold and/or moved operations in response to rapid development in areas of Idaho such as the Treasure Valley. Other farmers have realized that larger farms translate to higher production and higher resale/lease value.

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#38. Texas

- 1920
- Number of farms: 436,033
- Average farm size: 261 acres
- Total farm acres: 114.0 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 247,000 (-43.4% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 512 acres (+95.8% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 126.5 million (+10.9% from 1920)

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the farms. Beans, corn, and squash used to be the standard crops in Texas before the industrial revolution. Family farms of old were quickly replaced with larger, commercial farms that could grow mass-produced crops such as cotton and sorghum.

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#37. Washington

- 1920
- Number of farms: 66,288
- Average farm size: 200 acres
- Total farm acres: 13.2 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 35,600 (-46.3% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 410 acres (+105.2% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 14.6 million (+10.2% from 1920)

Many farmers in Eastern Washington lost farms after World War I due to Europe not needing the wheat they exported as much. Motorized farm trucks replaced horses, allowing farmers to work larger land, and advances in irrigation helped farms flourish throughout the state.

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#36. Montana

- 1920
- Number of farms: 57,677
- Average farm size: 608 acres
- Total farm acres: 35.1 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 26,800 (-53.5% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 2,164 acres (+255.9% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 58.0 million (+65.4% from 1920)

Big farms keep getting bigger in Montana. Thanks to improved equipment capabilities, better genetics for livestock, better pesticides, and the use of GPS, farmers are able to work larger land more efficiently.

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#35. Oklahoma

- 1920
- Number of farms: 191,988
- Average farm size: 162 acres
- Total farm acres: 31.1 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 77,300 (-59.7% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 445 acres (+175.1% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 34.4 million (+10.8% from 1920)

In 1935, farming was at its peak in Oklahoma, but as cotton and corn crops transitioned to winter wheat crops, the number of farms fell by the thousands leading up to the 1980s. By the 1990s, large operations growing winter wheat made up the bulk of Oklahoma’s farmland.

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#34. South Dakota

- 1920
- Number of farms: 74,031
- Average farm size: 468 acres
- Total farm acres: 34.6 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 29,600 (-60.0% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 1,459 acres (+211.8% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 43.2 million (+24.7% from 1920)

In order to remain profitable, most farms in South Dakota, and in general, expand. Farms in South Dakota are triple the size of the average American farm. Agriculture is the state’s #1 industry, and South Dakota producers were the first in the U.S. to plant genetically engineered corn and soybeans.

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#33. Iowa

- 1920
- Number of farms: 213,439
- Average farm size: 157 acres
- Total farm acres: 33.5 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 85,300 (-60.0% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 359 acres (+128.9% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 30.6 million (-8.6% from 1920)

More than 90% of Iowa’s land is used for agriculture. Since the 1970s, farm size has grown, while total farm numbers have shrunk, due to people taking other jobs, and technology making it easier for one person to do the work of many.

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#32. Minnesota

- 1920
- Number of farms: 178,478
- Average farm size: 169 acres
- Total farm acres: 30.2 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 68,000 (-61.9% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 375 acres (+121.5% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 25.5 million (-15.6% from 1920)

When crop prices were good, some farmers delayed retirement, but as prices fell off, farmers began to retire and sell land to larger producers. Technology and plant genetics also made it possible to manage a larger farm easier.

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#31. Nebraska

- 1920
- Number of farms: 124,417
- Average farm size: 339 acres
- Total farm acres: 42.2 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 45,700 (-63.3% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 982 acres (+189.3% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 44.9 million (+6.3% from 1920)

Farms in Nebraska became fewer in number after commodity prices continued to fall and the state experienced flooding, but there were 200 more netting more than $100K in sales in 2019 compared to the year prior. Total land allocated to farms and ranches dropped more than half in that timeframe.

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#30. Missouri

- 1920
- Number of farms: 263,004
- Average farm size: 132 acres
- Total farm acres: 34.8 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 95,200 (-63.8% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 290 acres (+119.3% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 27.6 million (-20.6% from 1920)

Missouri used to be a leader in hemp production, until its production was banned in 1971. The passing of the Farm Bill in 2018 removed the plant from the list of controlled substances, and Missouri farmers are growing the crop again. Large forestry products, such as logs and lumber, are big business in Missouri, with exports increasing in recent years.

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#29. Kansas

- 1920
- Number of farms: 165,286
- Average farm size: 275 acres
- Total farm acres: 45.4 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 58,500 (-64.6% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 781 acres (+184.2% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 45.7 million (+0.6% from 1920)

Kansas has been a leader in wheat production since the 1880s. They’ve since added beef, grain sorghum, and sunflower—commodities that do well on large farms—to the list. The Kansas City Animal Health Corridor is also home to the largest concentration of animal health companies in the world.

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#28. Wisconsin

- 1920
- Number of farms: 189,295
- Average farm size: 117 acres
- Total farm acres: 22.1 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 64,900 (-65.7% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 220 acres (+88.0% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 14.3 million (-35.4% from 1920)

Prior to the 1900s, Wisconsin was a wheat farming state. It was a pest called the chinch bug, along with the urging of a farmer and magazine editor named W.D. Hoard, that helped the state transition to dairy. The Great Depression caused many farmers to lose their land, and once horses were replaced by tractors, the numbers of farmers decreased as well.

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#27. North Dakota

- 1920
- Number of farms: 77,600
- Average farm size: 467 acres
- Total farm acres: 36.2 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 26,100 (-66.4% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 1,506 acres (+222.7% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 39.3 million (+8.5% from 1920)

Half of grain crops were seeded using horses in 1939 North Dakota, but only 8% used horses in 1946. This changeover to tractors and better seed varieties, and demand, has resulted in larger farms. North Dakota also experienced its first oil boom at the end of the 20th century, with some of the drilling reportedly causing contaminants from salt water to leach into the state’s farmland.

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#26. New Jersey

- 1920
- Number of farms: 29,702
- Average farm size: 77 acres
- Total farm acres: 2.3 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 9,900 (-66.7% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 76 acres (-1.1% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 0.8 million (-67.1% from 1920)

When milk production moved to bigger farms in the Western states, New Jersey lost most of its dairy farms, which once numbered in the thousands. The farmers who stayed have embraced diversification, adding commodities such as hay and grain.

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#25. New York

- 1920
- Number of farms: 103,195
- Average farm size: 200 acres
- Total farm acres: 20.6 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 33,400 (-67.6% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 207 acres (+3.5% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 6.9 million (-66.6% from 1920)

An aging labor force, coupled with rising labor costs, have caused a dip in the number of New York state farms over the years. Additional hardships include fluctuating international trade, damaging weather, and low prices for corn, milk, and soybeans.

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#24. Ohio

- 1920
- Number of farms: 256,695
- Average farm size: 92 acres
- Total farm acres: 23.5 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 77,800 (-69.7% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 175 acres (+91.0% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 13.6 million (-42.2% from 1920)

Food and agriculture are economic leaders in Ohio, with one in eight jobs related to farming. While the number of farms may have decreased in Ohio, the majority of Ohio’s farmland is used for crops (nearly 80%), whereas many other states use larger portions of land in farms for pasture, woodland, or grazing.

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#23. Illinois

- 1920
- Number of farms: 237,181
- Average farm size: 135 acres
- Total farm acres: 32.0 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 71,400 (-69.9% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 378 acres (+180.4% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 27.0 million (-15.6% from 1920)

Technology may have made farmers’ work easier and more advanced, but it also made it more expensive. Over the years, larger farms purchased mid-size farms that could no longer afford to keep up with new technology. This happened in Illinois and across the U.S. Today, the costs associated with starting a large farm are cost prohibitive to many young farmers.

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#22. Kentucky

- 1920
- Number of farms: 270,626
- Average farm size: 80 acres
- Total farm acres: 21.6 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 74,800 (-72.4% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 172 acres (+115.4% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 12.9 million (-40.3% from 1920)

Tobacco used to be Kentucky’s main crop until news of its negative health effects caused it to steadily decline, beginning around 1980. Kentucky subsequently got into the dairy business, counting 1,400 dairy farms in 2005, but just over 500 by the end of 2018. Low prices, feed costs, and retailers building their own processing plants had dire effects on the state’s dairy industry.

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#21. Tennessee

- 1920
- Number of farms: 252,774
- Average farm size: 78 acres
- Total farm acres: 19.6 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 69,700 (-72.4% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 155 acres (+99.8% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 10.8 million (-44.9% from 1920)

Homes, tourist recreation, and entertainment have replaced what used to be farmland in much of Tennessee. As technology favors the larger farms, smaller farms have closed and made room for additional urban development.

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#20. Indiana

- 1920
- Number of farms: 205,126
- Average farm size: 103 acres
- Total farm acres: 21.1 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 56,000 (-72.7% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 266 acres (+159.0% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 14.9 million (-29.3% from 1920)

Farm incomes shrank while sizes grew over the last few years in Indiana. Slim margins translate into consolidation for farmers who need more acres in order to increase profitability. Small farms in Indiana have increased in number recently, but aren’t able to produce as much for the state.

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#19. Rhode Island

- 1920
- Number of farms: 4,083
- Average farm size: 81 acres
- Total farm acres: 0.3 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 1,100 (-73.1% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 55 acres (-32.3% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 0.1 million (-81.9% from 1920)

The Farmland Preservation Act was established in 1981 to help stop the hemorrhaging of farmland in Rhode Island. Farmers can sell the development rights of their land to the state, which then keeps it as farmland that the producer continues to farm.

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#18. West Virginia

- 1920
- Number of farms: 87,289
- Average farm size: 110 acres
- Total farm acres: 9.6 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 22,900 (-73.8% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 153 acres (+39.6% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 3.5 million (-63.4% from 1920)

As farms shrink and disappear in West Virginia, the businesses that have supported their operation over the years are also disappearing, making it harder for the ones left to remain in business. Loudoun County, Virginia, is attempting to reestablish a Purchase of Development Rights program to help protect its farmland.

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#17. Pennsylvania

- 1920
- Number of farms: 202,250
- Average farm size: 87 acres
- Total farm acres: 17.7 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 52,700 (-73.9% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 139 acres (+59.2% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 7.3 million (-58.7% from 1920)

Low-density residential land use has taken over a large portion of Pennsylvania’s farmland. Farmland Preservation in Pennsylvania has worked to preserve more than 5,000 farms from development since 1988.

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#16. Maryland

- 1920
- Number of farms: 47,908
- Average farm size: 99 acres
- Total farm acres: 4.8 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 12,400 (-74.1% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 161 acres (+62.1% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 2.0 million (-58.0% from 1920)

As Maryland farms began to be pushed out to make way for development, the Right-to-Farm law was passed in 2013 to protect agricultural operations against nuisance lawsuits. A 2014 farm bill created additional commodity programs, crop insurance, and conservation programs.

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#15. Connecticut

- 1920
- Number of farms: 22,655
- Average farm size: 84 acres
- Total farm acres: 1.9 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 5,500 (-75.7% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 69 acres (-17.7% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 0.4 million (-80.0% from 1920)

Energy and solar developments are just two of the reasons Connecticut is losing acres of farmland. But small farms appear to be growing, integrating organic offerings and becoming more diversified by including farm tours and interaction with consumers.

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#14. Michigan

- 1920
- Number of farms: 196,447
- Average farm size: 97 acres
- Total farm acres: 19.0 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 47,000 (-76.1% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 209 acres (+115.7% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 9.8 million (-48.5% from 1920)

Soy was one of Michigan’s top crops, but as the crop became more available throughout the nation—at lower prices—some farmers were no longer profitable. They either exited the business or moved to another size category. Flooding in recent years also made it impossible for some Michigan farmers to plant their soy and corn crops.

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#13. Vermont

- 1920
- Number of farms: 29,075
- Average farm size: 146 acres
- Total farm acres: 4.2 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 6,800 (-76.6% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 176 acres (+20.8% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 1.2 million (-71.7% from 1920)

Oversupply and low prices have led to the closure of hundreds of dairy farms in Vermont over the past decade. Many Vermont dairy farmers have transitioned to raising cows or growing the popular hemp crop for use in CBD products.

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#12. Virginia

- 1920
- Number of farms: 186,242
- Average farm size: 100 acres
- Total farm acres: 18.6 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 42,400 (-77.2% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 184 acres (+84.6% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 7.8 million (-58.0% from 1920)

Farmers in Virginia have been struggling with reaching retirement age and not having a family member interested in taking over the farm. There are also a growing number of Virginia farmers who work part-time jobs outside the home to cover their bills, which eventually forces them out of the business.

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#11. Delaware

- 1920
- Number of farms: 10,140
- Average farm size: 93 acres
- Total farm acres: 0.9 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 2,300 (-77.3% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 230 acres (+146.9% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 0.5 million (-43.9% from 1920)

With around 90% of the farms in Delaware owned and operated by families, the profitability of a farm plays a major role in its success or failure. The Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation has made strides to preserve some of the state’s farmland by purchasing development rights for more than 100,000 acres, placing permanent agricultural conservation easements on the properties.

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#10. Massachusetts

- 1920
- Number of farms: 32,001
- Average farm size: 78 acres
- Total farm acres: 2.5 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 7,200 (-77.5% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 69 acres (-11.5% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 0.5 million (-80.0% from 1920)

Flooding, blizzards, and international trade deals have resulted in farm bankruptcy numbers in Massachusetts that are reminiscent of those that took place during the farm crisis of the 1980s. The number of dairy farms went from more than 1,000 in the early 1980s to around 100 today. Farmers continue to age out and the profit potential isn’t always appealing enough to younger family members.

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#9. Louisiana

- 1920
- Number of farms: 135,463
- Average farm size: 74 acres
- Total farm acres: 10.0 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 27,400 (-79.8% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 292 acres (+294.8% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 8.0 million (-20.2% from 1920)

Louisiana has suffered billions of dollars in losses due to hurricanes, tropical storms, and droughts over the years. Rural residents have migrated to Louisiana’s urban areas, abandoning farms and farm life, where bigger farms continue to consolidate the land.

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#8. New Hampshire

- 1920
- Number of farms: 20,523
- Average farm size: 127 acres
- Total farm acres: 2.6 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 4,100 (-80.0% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 105 acres (-17.2% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 0.4 million (-83.5% from 1920)

Over the years, many New Hampshire farmers were lured away from farms with promises of higher wages from the textile mills in the big cities. Now, with farm size and number of farms decreasing evermore in New Hampshire, farmers have turned to more sustainable farming practices, such as no-till, reduced-till, and cover crop farming.

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#7. Arkansas

- 1920
- Number of farms: 232,604
- Average farm size: 75 acres
- Total farm acres: 17.5 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 42,300 (-81.8% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 331 acres (+341.0% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 14.0 million (-19.8% from 1920)

The number of farms in Arkansas may have shrunk, but the size has ballooned. Fewer than 20% of the farms in Arkansas are responsible for more than 90% of the state’s output, which includes exports of rice, poultry, cotton, soybeans, cotton, and feed grain.

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#6. North Carolina

- 1920
- Number of farms: 269,763
- Average farm size: 74 acres
- Total farm acres: 20.0 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 46,200 (-82.9% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 182 acres (+145.2% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 8.4 million (-58.0% from 1920)

Farmers can’t keep their farms if they aren’t profitable, so owners of small farms in North Carolina have been looking at ways to increase profits. These include more-specialized crops, value-added products, agritourism, organic produce, and specialty meats and cheeses that appeal to consumers.

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#5. Maine

- 1920
- Number of farms: 48,227
- Average farm size: 113 acres
- Total farm acres: 5.4 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 7,600 (-84.2% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 171 acres (+52.0% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 1.3 million (-76.0% from 1920)

Maine used to be a major player in the corn canning industry, but after the Great Depression hit, the industry never fully bounced back. By the end of the 1960s, Maine farmers were no longer canning corn at all. Potatoes, dairy, and blueberries are now the major crops for Maine, but the acreage devoted to producing them continues to decline.

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#4. Alabama

- 1920
- Number of farms: 256,099
- Average farm size: 76 acres
- Total farm acres: 19.6 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 38,800 (-84.8% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 214 acres (+179.9% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 8.3 million (-57.6% from 1920)

Alabama was once known as the Cotton State, with millions of acres devoted to the crop in the early 1900s. An infestation of the Mexican boll weevil destroyed thousands of acres of cotton up through the 1990s. Falling soybean prices were another blow to the Alabama farm economy in the early 2000s. Today, Alabama farmers focus on commodities such as poultry and eggs.

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#3. Georgia

- 1920
- Number of farms: 310,732
- Average farm size: 82 acres
- Total farm acres: 25.4 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 41,500 (-86.6% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 246 acres (+200.5% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 10.2 million (-59.9% from 1920)

After successfully eradicating the boll weevil, cotton returned as an important crop to Georgia. The majority of farms, which have been consolidated from smaller farms, now focus on produce, poultry, cotton, eggs, timber, or peanuts.

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#2. South Carolina

- 1920
- Number of farms: 192,693
- Average farm size: 64 acres
- Total farm acres: 12.4 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 24,600 (-87.2% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 195 acres (+202.4% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 4.8 million (-61.4% from 1920)

Cotton and tobacco producers in South Carolina benefited from the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933, which reduced acreage, balanced supply and demand, and raised crop prices. After World War II, soybean crops became popular and fertilizers improved. Farms became larger and fewer in number as farmers left rural areas.

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#1. Mississippi

- 1920
- Number of farms: 272,101
- Average farm size: 67 acres
- Total farm acres: 18.1 million
- 2019
- Number of farms: 34,500 (-87.3% from 1920)
- Average farm size: 301 acres (+352.3% from 1920)
- Total farm acres: 10.4 million (-42.6% from 1920)

Most of Mississippi’s land was devoted to growing hand-planted and hand-picked cotton until the early 1950s. New mechanization methods and production needs led to bigger farms growing more diversified crops such as rice, sweet potatoes, and corn for grain.

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