Massachusetts Agricultural Census 2012
Which Farm Business Type Holds the Most Land?
The greatest numbers of Massachusetts farms have been family or individually owned over the past three decades. These farms have also held the largest amount of land in farms. In 2007 (Figure 7.2), these farms operated nearly 350,000 acres of the total 520,000 acres in Massachusetts, 67.5 percent of all farmland in the state. In 2002, the proportion of land held by family and individually owned farms was even greater at nearly 519,000 acres (76 percent of the total 687,000 acres). Corporate farms, which represented about 8 percent of the farms, controlled nearly 77,000 acres or 14.8 percent of Massachusetts's farmland. Partnerships held 69,000 acres or 13.3 percent of the Commonwealth's farmland. Other types of business organizations held the remaining 22,000 acres of Massachusetts's farmland (4.3 percent). In 2012, the census protects the possibility that the land data will reveal information about individual farms and data are withheld for all but the corporate farms. Corporate farms now represent 106,000 acres (15.8 percent) of the approximately 524,000 acres Massachusetts farmland. Figure 7.2 displays only the amount of farmland held by farms that are incorporated. Given the changes in farm numbers across the different farm business organization types, we expect that in 2012 family and individually owned farms have the greatest amount of farm land. Using past information on average farm sizes and current farm numbers by type of operation, we estimate that about 300,000 acres are owned by families or individuals, about 76,000 acres by partnerships and 41,000 acres by other types of farm operations.