Since just after World War II, the number of people employed in agriculture has dropped by half. Most of America’s farms are small and nearly all are family-run—but they’re also disappearing. In 1935, the number of farms peaked at almost 7 million. By 2019, that number had dropped to about 2.02 million farms.
COVID-19 put additional pressure on an already strained industry: In March 2020, farm bankruptcies jumped by 23%. And in the 12-month period ending June 30, 2020, 580 American farmers filed for chapter 12 bankruptcy protection. Issues during the pandemic included everything from breakdowns in the supply chain to the closures of processing plants.
To find out more about this complex and essential industry, Stacker compiled a gallery of 50 facts about U.S. farming. We’ve relied on authoritative sources that include the American Farm Bureau Federation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and industry and trade groups.
In 1870, about half of all Americans had jobs in agriculture, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Today, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that farmworkers comprise less than 1% of salary workers in the U.S. Nevertheless, production is still huge. U.S. farmers raise hundreds of millions of egg-laying hens, harvest millions of tons of fruits and vegetables, and keep the rest of the world supplied with corn, wheat, and soybeans. A single acre of land can grow 50,000 pounds of strawberries or 3,000 pounds of wheat, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation; and in 2020 alone, an estimated $135 billion in U.S. agricultural products were exported around the world despite disruptions to the supply chain.
Keep reading to find more fascinating information about farming in the United States.
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