In the mid 1940's, farmers were being encouraged to form a union to survive. However, many still ended up selling and leaving the farm. This farm history video explores the pressures on the farmer. It outlines farmers' need for organization, education, cooperation, and political action to help them in their struggle.
When this video was created, one fourth of the American people lived by the land. That number is much smaller now. As of 1990, The total U.S population: 261,423,000; farm population: 2,987,552; (1.1% of total population.) farmers 2.6% of labor force; Number of farms: 2,143,150; average acres: 461; irrigated acres: 49,404,000 (1992) Source:1990 National Institute of Farm and Agriculture.
Interestingly enough, the USDA says that 97% of all farms are still family owned. It seems that their definition of "family farm" and our definition of "family farm" might not be the same.
If you have the time and motivation you can see a breakdown of every imaginable statistics about family farms at the USDA website.
If you really want to dig in even deeper, try this.
However you rack and stack the statistics, it is evident that small farmers are under increasing pressure from large corporations, even “family owned” corporations. However, it is still encouraging to see today's movement of families back to the farm.