Farming back on the upswing in Massachusetts

Farming is not a common occupation in the United States today. According to these figures from the EPA, less than 1% of Americans claim farming as an occupation and about 2% of people live on farms.

Yet the Boston Globe reports that farming is on the upswing in Massachusetts. According to the figures:

From 2002 to 2007, the number of farms in Massachusetts jumped by about 27 percent to 7,691, according to the US Department of Agriculture census. That’s a reversal from the previous five years, when there was a 20 percent drop in the number of farms and, presumably, farmers, many of whom sold land to developers.

But the start-up farms are smaller than the family enterprises of the past. The average farm in Massachusetts, 85 acres in 2002, was 67 acres five years later.

American society experienced such a shift away from agriculture from the late 1800s to today that I wonder if this is part of a shift toward a slightly more balanced world between agriculture and other sectors of society. There are plenty of books and pundits talking about how we are disconnected from the land and our food – perhaps a new generation is listening (and the article does make it sound like many of the new farmers are younger) and charting a new course.

(Even after an upswing, the number of farms in Massachusetts is still small. A lot more people would need to go into agriculture to become a movement.)

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