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Is the Allure of Farming Irresistible?

Posted by Jodi Halvorson, USDA NASS Public Affairs Specialist in Research and Science
Jun 16, 2021
Farmer Cody Scott presents a freshly-harvested red beet grown on Green Bexar Farm, in Saint Hedwig, Texas, near San Antonio

Farming is hot! From sweet corn to watermelon and apricots to tomatoes, a lot is growing on the farm this summer. Millions of producers across our nation continue to work tirelessly to produce safe and delicious food. According to the latest Census of Agriculture, more than a quarter of these producers are new and beginning farmers, proving that many people are unable to resist agriculture’s magnetic appeal.

USDA defines a beginning farmer as anyone who has farmed for 10 years or less. In 2017, the United States had 908,274 producers who identified as beginning farmers, and they accounted for 27% of the country’s 3.4 million producers.

How old are these new farmers? The average age of a beginning farmer is 46.3, much younger than the average age of all farmers (57.5). Without a doubt, the art and science of producing food attracts people of all ages.

If we look for younger farmers, we find 26% of beginning farmers are under the age of 35. The under 35 age group represents only 8% of all U.S. farmers overall. Will more young people find a match in farming as time goes on? Look for an update in the 2022 Census of Agriculture.

States with the largest share of beginning farmers are mostly on the east and west coasts. However, just as Texas is the state with the most farms and the most producers, Texas leads in the number of beginning farmers. For more statistics about new and beginning ag producers, visit www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/Highlights.

Category/Topic: Research and Science

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