Small farm definition, benefits, production, and challenges

What is a small farm?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines small farms as those with gross cash farm income of less than $250,000. Florida has nearly 48,000 farms, of which 90 percent are classified as small farms. Hillsborough County has almost 3,000 small farms. Eight-nine percent of these farms have sales of less than $100,000 per year with average net income of $54,304. For 55 percent of those, farming is not the primary occupation of the principle operator, and 83 percent operate on less than 50 acres.


Small farms are economically and environmentally significant as they increase the biological diversity of landscapes, preserve land from urban or industrial uses, provide varying levels of income and economic opportunity for rural communities, enhance access to fresh foods for urban areas, and preserve the cultural heritage of communities.


Small farm production is as varied as the imagination is wide ranging. Everything from beef cattle, forage production, poultry, free range chickens, rabbits and goats to llama fiber, fresh and organic produce, hydroponic vegetables, and cut flowers are produced, just to name a few.
Alternative enterprises may include aquaculture, fish production, beekeeping, juice, wine or beer making, mushroom production, worms, renewable energy, and ecotourism.


Small farmers and alternative enterprises are faced with similar challenges of increased regulatory pressures, costs of economic inputs such as fuel, land, labor and supplies, marketing, and keeping abreast of new methods through research and education. This site provide access to research, education and solutions for small farms and alternative enterprise challenges.

Useful resources:

Last Modified: 8/16/2023, 3:46:14 PM

Was this page helpful?