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We use two comprehensive and representative USDA databases to assess the performance of small farms in the U.S. Farm production is shifting to much larger farms, and the number of small commercial farms is declining. Most large U.S. farms remain family-owned and operated enterprises, and most remain small businesses by U.S. standards. Small commercial farms tend to focus on three commodities: beef cattle, grains and oilseeds, and poultry. On average, large farm financial returns substantially exceed those on small farms, but the range of performance among small farms is quite wide. About one quarter of the nearly 800,000 small commercial farms show very good financial returns.


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