Back to top
Diverse Mix of Farm Types

Massachusetts Agricultural Census 2012

What are the predominant types of farms in Massachusetts? Massachusetts consists of a very diverse group of farms. If we rank farm types by the numbers of farms, the most predominant type of farm in 2012 was horse and other equine production, accounting for 1,183 farms, or about 15 percent of all Massachusetts farms in 2012 (Figure 2.2). Close behind are the farms involved in hay farming, accounting for 1,097 farms, or about 14 percent of all Massachusetts farms in 2012. Greenhouse, nursery and floriculture accounted for 968 farms, or about 12.5 percent of total Massachusetts farms. Vegetable and melon farming accounted for 923 farms in 2012, or about 11.9 percent of total Massachusetts farms.  Lastly, fruit, tree nut and berry farming, which includes the Commonwealth’s cranberry growers and orchards, accounted for 779 farms, or about 10 percent of total Massachusetts farms.

Figure 2.3 and the tables below summarize the total land in farms by type for the years 2002, 2007 and 2012. Hay farming was at number one in both 2002 and 2007 in terms of the total land in acres utilized and continued at number one in 2012 with nearly 117,000 acres of land in hay. There was an increase of more than 17 percent in the amount of land used for hay farming from 2002 to 2007, and hay farming accounted for 27 percent of the total Massachusetts land in farms. In 2012, hay farming declined in acreage by nearly 18 percent from the high in 2007. Although fruit, tree nut and berry farming was ranked second in 2007 and represented 13 percent of the total land in farms, the amount of land used for it declined by 5 percent between 2002 and 2007. In 2012, fruit, tree nuts and berry farming was again second and regained the acreage lost between 2002 and 2007, and then some, with over 80,000 acres of Massachusetts’s farmland. Dairy cattle and milk production, which was ranked second in 2002, third in 2007, continues to hold the third spot, but the number of acres has fallen from just over 92,000 to 50,367.  Dairy has fallen from nearly 18 percent in 2002, to around 13 percent in 2007, and now has less than 10 percent of the Commonwealth’s farmland.  Beef cattle ranching and farming and vegetable and melon farming were ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, in 2007. It is interesting to note the large decrease in the amount of land used by other crop farming, which was ranked fourth in 2002 amongst the land in farms by type. The total land utilized by other crop farming declined by 38 percent in 2007 to 25,018 acres compared to 40,368 acres in 2002. This likely reflected farmers’ shifting to vegetable and melon farming. In 2012, vegetables and melons remained fourth and other crops returned to a top five position. Interestingly, horse and other equine farms neared the top five with nearly 41,000 acres of farmland, an increase of over 46 percent from the 2007 acreage.

Table 2.2 Land in Farms by Type 2002
Commodity Acres Percent of Total Farms Acres Per Farm
Oilseed and grain farming 13,780 2.7% 81 170.1
Vegetable and melon 34,737 6.7% 469 74.1
Fruit, tree nuts and berries 72,240 13.9% 811 89.1
Greenhouse, nursery, floriculture 35,853 6.9% 958 37.4
Tobacco farming 3,497 0.7% 37 94.5
Hay 121,099 23.4% 962 125.9
Other crop 40,368 7.8% 296 136.4
Beef cattle ranching and farming 37,722 7.3% 424 89.0
Dairy cattle and milk production 92,040 17.7% 279 329.9
Hog and pig farming  4,960 1.0% 72 68.9
Poultry and egg production 5,094 1.0% 163 31.3
Sheep and goat farming 10,223 2.0% 211 48.5
Animal aquaculture 1,728 0.3% 124 13.9
Apiculture 2,080 0.4% 58 35.9
Horse and other equine production 31,794 6.1% 961 33.1
Other animal production 11,355 2.2% 169 67.2
Total $518,570 100.00% 6075  

 

Table 2.3 Land in Farms by Type 2007
Commodity Acres Percent of Total Farms Acres Per Farm
Oilseed and grain farming 4,253 0.8% 22 193.3
Vegetable and melon 44,974 8.7% 662 67.9
Fruit and tree nut 68,566 13.2% 893 76.8
Greenhouse, nursery, floriculture 31,705 6.1% 865 36.7
Tobacco farming 3,914 0.8% 46 85.1
Hay 142,168 27.5% 1278 111.2
Other crop 25,018 4.8% 246 101.7
Beef cattle ranching and farming 50,890 9.8% 804 63.3
Dairy cattle and milk production 65,645 12.7% 258 254.4
Hog and pig farming  5,199 1.0% 82 63.4
Poultry and egg production 14,677 2.8% 480 30.6
Sheep and goat farming 15,100 3.1% 279 57.7
Animal aquaculture 2,402 0.5% 252 9.5
Apiculture 1,774 0.3% 84 35.9
Horse and other equine production 27,987 5.4% 1117 21.1
Other animal production 12,607 2.4% 323 39.0
Total $517,879 100.00% 7691  

 

Table 2.4 Land in Farms by Type 2012
Commodity Acres Percent of Total Farms Acres Per Farm
Oilseed and grain farming 7,375 1.4% 41 179.9
Vegetable and melon 42,248 8.1% 923 45.7
Fruit, tree nuts and berries 80,568 15.4% 779 103.4
Greenhouse, nursery, floriculture 34,886 6.7% 968 36.0
Tobacco farming 1,672 0.3% 11 152.0
Hay 116,980 22.3% 1097 106.6
Other crop 42,024 8.0% 394 106.7
Beef cattle ranching and farming 37,967 7.3% 628 60.5
Dairy cattle and milk production 50,367 9.6% 147 342.6
Hog and pig farming  7,128 1.4% 135 52.8
Poultry and egg production 15,851 3.0% 380 41.7
Sheep and goat farming 24,278 4.6% 365 66.5
Animal aquaculture 1,809 0.3% 175 10.3
Apiculture 1,508 0.3% 89 16.9
Horse and other equine production 40,968 7.8% 1183 34.6
Other animal production 17,988 3.4% 440 40.9
Total $523,517 100.00% 7755