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Shrinking US farms - A call for innovation


America's farming landscape is changing, evidenced by the latest agriculture census data. The country now has 1.9 million farms, down 6.9% from 2017, with farms getting larger, averaging 463 acres. This trend is driven by escalating production costs and an aging workforce, posing significant challenges for the sector. 

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has called this trend a critical wake-up call, highlighting the industry's consolidation and the necessity for a strategic response.  

The dominance of large farming operations, making up a significant portion of agricultural sales, underscores the competitive disadvantage smaller farms face. 

Despite these challenges, the industry sees a glimmer of hope with an increase in young and beginning farmers. The census also points to a slow but positive shift towards climate-smart agricultural practices, like cover cropping and no-till farming, and an uptick in renewable energy use, particularly solar energy, on farms. 

These developments suggest a potential pivot towards a more sustainable and diversified agricultural model. This model could provide multiple revenue streams for smaller and mid-sized farms, offering a path forward in the face of industry consolidation and environmental challenges.

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