Beginning Farmers and US Agriculture

From the Center For Rural Affairs:
The population of U.S. agriculture is poised to make a dramatic change – half of all current farmers are likely to retire in the next decade. U.S. farmers over age 55 control more than half the farmland, while the number of entry-level farmers replacing them has fallen by 30 percent since 1987 and now makes up only 10 percent of farmers and ranchers.

Absent a new generation of beginners, that land will concentrate in large farms, causing the permanent loss of opportunity for family farms, ranches, and rural communities and squandering the chance to shift to a more sustainable system of agriculture.

Beginners have different needs than established farmers and ranchers. Beginning farmers often lack the capital and the scale of operation to make profits with high-cost technologies and production systems that are the focus of many research and education programs. The Center’s programs on behalf of beginning farmers address these needs.

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