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Family Farms & the Family Farms Act

January 18, 2022
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Eleni Bickell

Executive Summary

Under the Family Farms Act in current Missouri law, a "small farmer" is defined as a farmer who is a Missouri resident and has less than $250,000 in gross sales per year. The livestock loan program allows a small farmer to take one loan per family for use on one type of livestock with a maximum amount of $250,000. Proposed legislation (e.g., HB1596, SB817) would expand the definition of family farms to those who generate up to $500,000 in gross sales per year, would remove restrictions on the number of loans per livestock production, and increase the maximum amount of the loan for each type of livestock production. 


  • There are more than 2 million farms in the U.S. and 98% of U.S. farms are family farms.  
    • Family farming is responsible for over 50% of the value of production in the U.S. food production. However, these farms vary in size and characteristics. For example, annual gross revenue can range from as little as $1,000 to more than $5 million.
  • Missouri is second in the number of total farms after Texas. There are over 95,000 farms covering more than 63% of the state’s land area.


  • Lack of clarity regarding terminology surrounding family farms and the diversity of the composition agricultural sector may be a barrier to standardized analysis.


This Note has been updated. See the previous version here (published 12/2021).

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