U of I Report Says Number of Small Farms Continue to Shrink, Large Concentration of Large Farms in West Central and Southeast IL

By Benjamin Cox on December 11, 2019 at 4:56pm

Big farms got bigger in Illinois over the decade. A report authored by the University of Illinois’ Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics released yesterday say that grain farms that operate over 2000 acres in the state have risen in number from 16% of farms in the state in 1997 to 32.9% in 2017. The report concludes that higher acres operated by larger farms will continue to grow into the next decade.

According to census data from the U.S. Department of Agricultural Statistics Service, a little less than 40% of farmland in the state is operated by farms of less than 1000 acres, that number has dropped by nearly 20% in the last decade – meaning that small family farms are slowly continuing to slip away.

Scott County farmland had some of the highest concentrations of large farms, with 51% of the farmland in that county owned by farms over 2000 acres. Sangamon County stands at 52%, Morgan County is at 36%, Cass is at 40%, and Greene is the lowest with 33%. Southeast Illinois also has a large concentration of farms over 2000 acres. The belief of the report is that local market conditions have played a large part in the number of large farm operations continued expansion away from small family farms.