U.S. farm numbers continue to drift lower, dropping to 2.048 million according to a USDA survey conducted last June, only a shadow of their peak during the Depression. At the same time that the total falls, the portion of land operated by the biggest farms, the powerhouses with more than $1 million a year in sales, continues to grow, now covering a quarter of all farmland.
The federally subsidized crop-insurance program, which costs $8 billion a year, "is an unlimited, uncapped entitlement program," says a coalition of 119 small-farm, organic and land-stewardship groups in farm bill proposals at odds with large-scale agriculture. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition proposed an annual limit of $50,000 in premium subsidies for the major crops, such as corn, wheat, soybeans and cotton, and a limit of $80,000 for higher-value specialty crops, such as fruit and vegetables.
The North Dakota Farmers Union "has funded almost all the campaign" to retain a ban on corporate farming in the state, says The Associated Press.
North Dakotans will vote in a June 14 referendum on a law that allows corporate hog and dairy farming in the state, says the Fargo Forum. The North Dakota Farmers Union led a petition drive that collected more than 19,000 signatures to refer the law to the voters.
The largest U.S. farming operations, those with more than $500,000 in annual sales, control a seemingly ever-growing portion of the country's farmland. The annual Farms and Land in Farms report by USDA says big farmers operated 41.2 percent, or 376 million acres, of the 913 million acres of land in farms in 2015.