USDA has come out with a new report on beginning farmers and ranchers based on data from the 2007 Agricultural Census.
The entire report is available at http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/EIB53/
USDA defines beginning farmers and ranchers as those who have operated a farm or ranch for 10 years or less either as a sole operator or with others who have operated a farm or ranch for 10 years or less. Beginning farmers tend to be younger than established farmers and to operate smaller farms or ranches, some of which may provide no annual production. Beginning farmers often face obstacles getting started, including high startup costs and limited availability of land. USDA—through the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service—provides loans and conservation assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers. This report draws on data from annual surveys and the Census of Agriculture to provide policymakers with a better understanding of beginning farmers and ranchers, including how they contribute to U.S. agricultural production.