Farms involved in rural development-related on-farm activities vary considerably

A chart showing the average farm size and net farm income, by farm activity.

Since 2002, USDA has increased its emphasis on farm-related business activities associated with renewable energy, local/regional food, and value-added agriculture. Other new programs and program modifications have focused on these and other farm activities and related industries, including the use of farm and ranch natural resources. Based on the 2007 Agricultural Resource Management Survey, the size and profitability of farms involved in five "rural development-related activities" vary considerably, both within activities (because of the broad definition of a farm used by USDA) and across activities. Not surprisingly, the majority of farms involved in the three food-related activities operate relatively few acres. While large farms are also involved, and provide a significant share of the sector's output in these categories, small farms often find a niche providing organic products, participating in direct marketing with consumers, and producing value-added agricultural products, such as wine and cheese. Farms involved in agribusiness and renewable energy production tend to be larger, on average. This chart is based on data from Farm Activities Associated With Rural Development Initiatives, ERR-134, May 2012.

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