Are American Farms Disappearing and Will Government Subsidies Help Them Stay Afloat?

June 06, 2024
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Discover the truth about the future of American farms and how Government Subsidies could help.

In 2022, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) examined current census information and discovered that our country lost around 7% (141,733) of its total farmland between 2017 and 2022. That is roughly 20 million acres of farmland or the equivalent land size of the great state of Maine.


Cost is the number one factor driving this decrease in production, which is essential to our national food supply chain. Only those food producers with massive operations and source material partnerships are finding rapid growth. Increased expenses for seed, cultivation, workers, and equipment are currently threatening the era of the individual farmer.


If you trace the battle to maintain farmland back to 1982, the total acreage rises to 31 million. As of this year, ranchland is lost every hour to make way for housing and urban industrial development. This is an important factor as the advent of remote work, rising housing markets inside metropolitan areas and city life are driving consumers out of typical regions of settlement.


Imagine you’re a physician required to remain close to a major trauma unit, even though you function in administration and not practice. Suddenly, the shift to remote and telehealth services allows you to earn the same income, but without having to commute. Wouldn’t it only make sense to relocate your family where the cost of living is lower? All of a sudden, your dollar gets stretched way more when you’re living in high-value farmland.


That trend requires the once productive rural real estate to shift ownership to urban land dwellers. Suddenly, parts of the United States traditionally used for growing produce are being bulldozed to make way for apartment complexes and single-family housing.


Then there is the age factor. Over 40% of rural America's farmland is owned by people over the age of 65. In the next 20 years, that will result in roughly 370 million acres of usable farmland being sold. Not everyone who purchases this beautiful slice of Americana is going to want to get up at 6 a.m. to tend to the fields.


One way to combat this loss of farmland is by offering government farm subsidies. Between 2018 and 2022, $123.2 billion was sent to farms through the U.S. Farm Bill, and another $39.2 billion went into crop insurance. This money is used for farming practices, research and development, conservation, disaster aid, marketing, nutrition assistance, risk mitigation, and more.


The idea is that if we can subsidize the work of farms, we lower the chances of losing so much land to crucial food supply sourcing. American farmland is the golden ticket to a well-balanced meal. The cattle, crops, and supplies generated from our rural real estate are essential in ensuring hungry mouths are fed.


However, several economic and policy changes need to happen to “sweeten” the pot. Emphasis needs to be placed on:


  • Introducing agribusiness development like entertainment, housing, and secondary business efforts.
  • We need to integrate smart growing principles that mix the produce considered “in-demand.”
  • Permanently put in protection so agricultural land is used for agricultural purposes.
  • Allow the integration of IoT/AI/remote technologies for streamlining the human workforce.
  • Increase investment in renewable energy and solar panel efficiency.
  • Help “niche” farmers focused on organic, free-range, and other specialty markets to thrive.


By taking these initiatives, we may well usher in a new generation of farmers eager to get away from the city now that so much entertainment and exploration of the world are available at the touch of a screen.


Keeping American farmers at work will be a challenge in the years to come. The traditional methods of the past may no longer apply, but the knowledge and insight they can offer should be valued. This is even more important considering how climate change is pushing American farmers to confront some serious challenges.


The U.S. ranks in the top three for 10 out of 21 of the most common agricultural commodities in the world. We are an industry leader in farming and agriculture because we have such a diverse ecosystem spread out over vast lands like the Midwest, South, and Southeast. We could face a severe food shortage if we lose these precious resources.


Investing in farmland and rural real estate ensures we can maintain our production levels and usher in a new era of farming innovation and development. That is how we will keep food on the table night after night.