USDA’s Economic Research Service recently released “An Overview of Beginning Farms and Farmers.” Nigel Key and Greg Lyons prepared the September 2019 report.
A beginning farm or ranch is defined as one on which all the operators have had no more than 10 years of farm or ranch experience. The report uses information from the USDA’s Agricultural Resource Management Survey.
Among the findings:
- From 2013 to 2017, there was an average of 339,400 farms on which all operators were beginning farmers.
- Beginning farmers and ranchers accounted for 17% of all farms and 8% of all agricultural production in the United States from 2013 to 2017;
- Gaining access to land and farm equipment, and financing are top challenges.
- From 2013 to 2017, there were 898,100 operators, on average, with no more than 10 years of farming experience on any operation. Of these beginning farmers, a little more than half, or 461,400, were operators of beginning farms. Just less than half, or 436,700, were operators on farms where not all operators were beginning farmers.
- Between 2013 and 2017, there was an average of 339,400 beginning farms. Of these, 112,200 beginning farms, or 33%, produced at least $10,000 worth of output.
- 12% of beginning farms producing at least $10,000 in output have a gross cash farm income greater than $350,000, and only 3% of these beginning farms are classified as large or very large farms (GCFI of at least $1,000,000).
- Beef cattle and cash grains and oilseed are the most common commodity specializations for beginning farms.
- Beginning farms comprise about 19% of poultry and other livestock producers and 10% of beef cattle producers.
- Beginning farms comprise 12% to 15% of cash grain and oilseed, field crop and high-value crop producers.