Study Shows Iowa is Losing Small Farms

by Brian Wilson
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An Iowa State University study finds the size and number of small farms in Iowa dwindled in the past decade, while the size and number of commercial farms exploded. Professor David Peters, an extension rural sociologist at I-S-U, defines a small farm as being about 300 acres.

In the report “Rural Iowa at a Glance, Farm Trends,” small farms are vanishing and the big farms are getting bigger. Peters says whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends on your point of view.

Peters says the study also reflects a sharp rise in net farm incomes between 2020 and 2021, which he says was a surprise. Net farm incomes increased across all farm commodities in Iowa, as well as all farm sizes and classes.

There are about 83-thousand farms in Iowa and about 70-percent of them are places to live, not places to make a living. That’s important, Peters says, as the majority of farms in Iowa are now operated by people who do -not- make the majority of their income from farming.

While corn, soybean and hog farms have seen steady growth, poultry farms have seen income dips due to disease outbreaks, while Peters says there’s also concern for the cattle and dairy sectors. See the full report at:

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