UMD Researcher Highlights Trends in the Consolidation of Agriculture Across the U.S. with 35 Years of Data

Data show a steady shift to fewer and larger farming operations across crops, dairy, and livestock

Image Credit: Edwin Remsberg

July 31, 2020 Samantha Watters

The current COVID-19 pandemic has more and more people asking about our food supply, how agriculture is moving forward, and where agriculture is going in this country. Based on the long term work of James MacDonald, a new research professor in Agricultural & Resource Economics at the University of Maryland, he is a firm believer in the Maya Angelou quote, “You can't really know where you are going until you know where you have been.” In MacDonald’s latest publication in Applied Economics Perspectives and Policies, he presents a detailed history of the consolidation of agriculture in the U.S. based on 35 years of data from the U.S. Census of Agriculture and surveys from the United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service (USDA-ERS), where MacDonald was employed for nearly four decades. As branch chief in the Structure, Technology, and Productivity Branch at USDA-ERS focused on agriculture, MacDonald was able to build out a program to analyze these trends in agriculture, characterizing the steady shift to fewer and larger farming operations across the country in all sectors of agriculture.

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