Farming in Wisconsin: Fewer Farms, Bigger Farms

A report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) detailed farm sizes in Wisconsin, revealing a declining number of farms and an increase in the size of the remaining operations.

There were 68,700 farm operations in Wisconsin in 2016, which is down 200 operations from 2015. At the same time, there was an increase of 50 farms that posted between $500,000 and $999,999 in sales and an increase of 50 farms in the top tier, with more than $1 million in sales.

The increase in the number of farms in this top sales tier is contrary to the national trend, where larger farms saw slight decreases in number on top of one million fewer acres being farmed nationally.

The total number of farmed acres in Wisconsin (14.4 million) was unchanged, despite decrease in total operations, reflecting a consolidation of farms in the state.

This consolidation comes at a time of declining farm income, with the USDA predicting 2017 will see continued declines.

Direct government farm payments are expected to decrease along with income from livestock and most crops. Milk may see a rise from historically low prices, but it’s not likely strong enough to prop up the rest of the industry.

The trend of consolidation in order to lower expenses and increase profits may continue if low commodity prices keep pressure on smaller farms.

Crop prices (Feb. 20)

Rio Creek Feed Mill – Algoma

Commodity Price (per bushel) Basis
Corn $3.18 -0.50
New-Crop Corn $3.29 -0.65
Soybeans $9.52 -0.81
New-Crop Soybeans $9.38 -0.80
Wheat (SRW) $3.61 -0.80
New-Crop Wheat (SRW) $3.93 -0.76


Fox River Valley Ethanol – Green Bay

Corn $3.25/bushel -0.43
New-Crop Corn $3.49/bushel -0.45

Basis: The difference between the local cash price for a commodity and the Chicago cash price (where the Board of Trade sets national futures price).

Gas Price Averages

United States: $2.28

United States one year ago: $1.72

Wisconsin: $2.25

Wisconsin one year ago: $1.68

Northern Door: $2.40

Sturgeon Bay: $2.30

Other Commodities

Gold: $1,238.50/troy ounce

Silver: $18.04/troy ounce

Oil: $53.69/barrel

Sources:,,,, Wisconsin Ag Connection, USDA