USDA: 40 Percent Fewer US Wheat Farms Since 2002

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USDA’s Economic Research Service released their March Wheat Outlook Report recently that shows the number of U.S. wheat farms has dropped substantially over the past 20 years- a decline of 40% since 2002. Ryan Hanrahan is the farm policy news editor for Farmdoc from the University of Illinois. He explains some of the numbers highlighted in that report.

“The larger wheat farms, specifically 3,000 to 5,000 acre and larger category, saw some increases over those 20 years, while a lot of those smaller, maybe more family-type farms, those 100-to-500-acre farms are where those decreases were concentrated.”

Hanrahan says the USDA report shows a big dent in U.S. wheat production from losing those farms.

“The declines that they point back to about 2008-2009 when there was a 2.5-billion-bushel production in those years, and since the 2017 census, our production hasn’t topped two billion bushels. They point to the decline in planted acreage there and harvested acreage, particularly that 2008-2009 year again had 56 million acres, they say, and down to a low of 35.5 million acres harvested here in 2022-23.”

Wheat has become more of a rotational crop that gets mixed in with corn and soybeans. Hanrahan explains that corn and soybeans are typically more profitable.

“All three of the crops, wheat, corn, and soybeans, have increased in their value of production from 2017 to the 2022 Census of Ag. The increases for corn and soybeans are much more significant than what farmers have seen for wheat.”

The drop in production came in many of the different classes of wheat. Durum wheat saw the largest decline, losing 60 percent from the 2002 data to the 2022 data. Spring wheat, the report says, has fallen 43% since 2002.

Source: NAFB News Service

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