May 9, 2019
The newly released 2017 Census of Agriculture reports that 232,500 farms in the United States had an inventory of laying hens. But nearly 90 percent of these farms – 202,403 – held fewer than 50 birds. In the top size category reported, 100,000 or more hens, the Census found 320 farms.
That is still well above the number of companies paying into the American Egg Board or holding UEP membership, but it reflects the way the Census collects its information: Multiple farm sites owned by a single company would show up as different farms in the Census, even though there is only one owner.
The Census has long defined a “farm” as any place selling more than $1,000 in agricultural products during the year. Of the reported 2,042,220 farms of all types in the United States, nearly half (977,042) had annual sales below $5,000 and therefore could not have been relying on agriculture for their income. Farms with gross sales of $100,000 or more numbered 365,339.
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