Maui Business

Report: Family-Owned Farms Account for 93% of Hawaiʻi Farms

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The US Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released its 2017 Census of Agriculture Farm Typology report on Jan. 22, 2021, classifying Hawaiʻi’s farms to better evaluate the state’s agriculture.

The report highlighted that family farms comprise 93% of all Hawaiʻi farms, account for  55% of land in farms and 52% of the value of all agricultural products sold and government payments – compared to 96% of all US family farms, accounting for 87% of land in farms and 82% of the value of all agricultural products sold.

The farm typology report primarily focuses on the “family farm,” defined as any farm where the majority of the business is owned by the producer and individuals related to the producer. The report classifies all farms into unique categories based on two criteria: who owns the operation and gross cash farm income. GCFI includes the producer’s sales of crops and livestock,  fees for delivering commodities under production contracts, government payments, and farm related income. 

“Classifying Hawaiʻi’s 7,300 farms to better reflect their diversity is critical to evaluating and reporting on state’s agriculture,” said NASS Hawaiʻi State Statistician Shawn Clark. “Typology  allows us to more meaningfully explore the demographics of who is farming and ranching today  as well as their impact on the economy and communities around the country.” 


According to the report, small family farms (those farms with a GCFI of less than $350,000 per year) account for 91% of all Hawaiʻi farms and 34% of total land in farms. Large-scale family farms  (GCFI of $1 million or more) make up less than 1% of all Hawaiʻi farms. Mid-size farms (GCFI between $350,000 and $999,999) account for 1.5% of Hawaiʻi farms and 10% of the value of all agricultural products and government payments. 

The report also shows that the number of family farms increased by 3% (187 farms) since 2012.  The number of large-scale family farms increased by 31% while mid-size family farms decreased by 2%. Small family farms experienced an increase of 3%. 

Other key findings from the 2017 Census of Agriculture Farm Typology report include: 

  • Fruit and tree nut farms are comprised mostly (94%) of small family farms. Small family operations also account for 83% of vegetable, melon, potato, and sweet potato farms.
  • Beef, sheep, and goat farms tend to be small family farms. 
  • Family farms account for 72% of all direct sales to consumers. Small family farms contributed 48% of all direct sales to consumers.
  • Compared to producers on mid-size and large-scale family farms, small family farm producers are more likely to be women and producers age 65 or older. They are also more likely to be new and beginning farmers (farmed 10 years or less) and to report having military service. 

The full report is available here.


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