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Farms by Type of Business

Massachusetts Agricultural Census 2017

As Figure 7.1 shows, a great majority of Massachusetts farms over the years have been family or individually owned. Individual or family-owned farms make up the majority of farms and operate the greatest amount of farmland. The numbers of farms that are partnerships, corporations, or Cooperatives, Estates or Trusts has remained fairly consistent over the last four decades; most of the fluctation in overall farm numbers is attributable to family farms. Since 2007, the number of family farms has decreased by 8.6 percent. 

In 2017, 5,773 farms of the total 7,241 (79.5 percent) were individually or family owned. The number decreased slightly from the 6,186 individually and family owned farms in 2012, but reflects the same proportion of farms. Corporations held the second largest number of farms in the Commonwealth, with 668 farms (9.2 percent of Massachusetts farms), about the same as 2012 numbers (719 farms or 9.3 percent of Massachusetts farms). Partnerships made up 7.2 percent of the total number of farms in both 2017 (520 farms) and 2012 (583 farms). Other types of business organization included cooperatives, estates or trusts and institutional farms. These other farms made up 3.9 percent of Massachusetts farms in 2017 (280 farms), a small increase since 2012 (285 farms).