Since 1850, when minimum criteria defining a farm for census purposes were first established, the farm definition has changed nine times. A farm currently is defined, for statistical purposes, as any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced or sold or would have been sold during the agriculture census year. This was the official U.S. Commerce definition used in the agricultural censuses from 1974 to 1992. It was maintained when the USDA took over the responsibility and cost for the agricultural census of 1997 after the Bureau of Census proposed changing the farm sales minimum to $10,000. In 1995 when this was proposed, the change would have reduced the counted number of farms by nearly half, and was strongly opposed by many agricultural interests. The issue was resolved by permanently transferring the responsibility and cost for agricultural censuses to the USDA, which thus far has maintained the $1,000 threshold.

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