The number of farms in North Dakota has continued to decline over the past several years, but there also continues to be one constant in farm demographics. The proportion of farm operators who manage an individual or family farm versus those engaged in partnership or corporation farming has remained relatively unchanged since the late 1960s, according to the latest Population Bulletin released from the North Dakota State Data Center at North Dakota State University.
"Individual and family farms continued to represent the majority of North Dakota farms, at 87.4 percent in 1997,"says Richard Rathge, data center director. "Even so, these family farms declined by 25 percent between 1969 and 1997, from 35,428 to 26,660.
Rathge says the number of farms operating as partnerships dropped to 3,075 in 1997, down from 5,806 in 1969, a 47 percent decline. In contrast, corporate farm numbers have risen 87 percent--from 294 in 1969 to 551 in 1997--but these types of farms represented less than 2 percent of all North Dakota farms in 1997.
Family held corporations are the largest category of corporate farms in North Dakota; more than 95 percent of all corporate farms are family held, Rathge says.
In terms of area farmed, individual and family farm acreage rose to 80 percent of the total in 1997, up from 77 percent in 1969. Partnership acreage dropped to 13.4 percent in 1997, down from 15.8 percent in 1969. Corporate farms operated nearly 3 percent of all farm acreage in North Dakota in 1997; that proportion is up from less than 1 percent in 1969.