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Geography of Farms

Massachusetts Agricultural Census 2012

Where are the farms in Massachusetts? While the Commonwealth’s farms are spread across the state, Worcester County held 20 percent of the total number of farms in 2012. Plymouth County held 10.6 percent of the state’s farms while Hampshire (10.3 percent) and Franklin (10.06 percent) Counties each held about 10 percent of the state’s total. This represents a shift away from 2007, when Middlesex (9.1 percent) and Bristol (10.1 percent) Counties each held about 10 percent of the state’s total.  In the Connecticut River Valley, the three counties of Hampden (7.5 percent), Hampshire (10.3 percent) and Franklin (10.1 percent) accounted for just below 28 percent of all Massachusetts farms.

Farm numbers increased in all Massachusetts counties between 2002 and 2012 (Figure 2.5). There were slight declines in farm numbers between 2007 and 2012 in Barnstable (0.98 percent), Berkshire (0.02 percent), Bristol (0.86 percent), Essex (0.17 percent), Norfolk (0.27 percent) and Plymouth (0.83 percent) Counties. Worcester County continues to lead the state in terms of farm numbers, with 1,560 farms in 2012, up nominally by 0.8 percent from 1,547 farms in 2007.  Plymouth County, with 825 farms, is second; despite the decline in farm numbers from 882 in 2007 to 825 in 2012, the county still saw an overall increase in the number of farms between 2002 and 2012 of about 4 percent. Between 2007and 2012, Hampshire County gained 88 farms, to rank third in the state with 799 farms, an increase of more than 12 percent. Hampshire County saw an increase of more than 47 percent between 2002 and 2012.  Similarly, the number of farms in Franklin County increased by 5 percent between 2007 and 2012 to 780 farms.  The number of farms in Franklin County increased 33 percent between 2002 and 2012.  Middlesex County, which was ranked sixth in 2007 with 700 farms, gained 39 farms to return to its 2002 ranking of fifth in the state in numbers of farms.  The gain represents a 5 percent increase in the number of farms between 2007 and 2012, and a 27 percent increase in the number of farms between 2002 and 2012. These numbers reflect programs in place in Massachusetts to tax farmland at its use-value (Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 61A) and to help preserve farmland [Agriculture Preservation Restriction (APR) Program].