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Numbers Continue Slight Rise in 2012

Massachusetts Agricultural Census 2012

In general, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, farm numbers in Massachusetts increased as measured by the Census of Agriculture. Under the old methods of counting farms, Massachusetts’s farm numbers peaked in the late 80s, declined in 1992, then rebounded slightly in 1997.

The 1997 Census of Agriculture reported 5,574 farms in Massachusetts. For the 2002 Census, procedural changes were made to ensure more complete coverage of farms. For comparisons, the 1997 Census figures were adjusted. The adjusted census data showed there were 7,307 farms in Massachusetts in 1997. In 2002, the number of farms decreased 17 percent to 6,075 farms. The 2007 Census reported an increase in the number of farms to 7,691, which is equivalent to a 26 percent increase as compared to 2002.  The 2012 Census reported a much more modest increase in the number of farms in Massachusetts to 7,755, which is equivalent to a less than 1 percent increase as compared to 2007. The 2012 figure, however, still places the number of farms in Massachusetts at an historic level.


The table below shows the number of farms and total land in farms (Acres-Land in Farms) for census years from 1974 to 2012. The number of farms shows a general increasing trend, with a decline in 1992, a large increase in 1997 (after coverage adjustments), followed by a decline again in 2002. Although, the number of farms during the period 1974-2012 has increased by more than 72 percent, the total land in farms over the same period increased by only 1 percent. Compared to 2007, the number of farms in 2012 increased to 7,755, an increase of just under 1 percent. The total land in farms in 2012 increased to 523,517 acres from 517,879 acres in 2007, a rise of just over 1 percent in acreage.

Table 2.1: Number of Farms - An Increasing Trend Returns
Year Number of Farms Total Land in Farms
1974 4,4497 601,734
1978 4,946 617,359
1982 5,401 612,819
1987 6,216 615,185
1992 5,258 526,440
1997 5,574 518,299
1997 Adjusted 7,307 577,637
2002 6,075 518,570
2007 7,691 517,879
2012 7,755 523,517