U.S. farmers, ranchers, and producers of every kind are growing older. The average age of farm producers (PDF, 1.8 MB) increased from 56.3 to 57.5 years from 2012 to 2017. As legacy producers retire, our nation needs the next generation of producers to take on the important business of providing food, feed, fuel, and fiber for a growing population.
Finding necessary resources, like funding for equipment and training on the latest techniques, can be overwhelming. Young producers (PDF, 1.1 MB) inheriting family farms may be tasked with carrying on a family legacy and might feel increased pressure to succeed. The Census of Agriculture helps USDA and other organizations develop programs that support ag producers, including young farmers.
In 2017, the U.S. had 321,261 young producers (ages 35 or younger), accounting for 9% of the country’s 3.4 million producers. Participating in the ag census is vital to support young producers and ensure they are set up for success.
Family farms accounted for 96% of all U.S. farms, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture. These farms – 1,789,439 small family farms, 108,304 mid-size family farms, and 52,592 large-scale family farms – collectively produced $318 billion worth of agricultural products in 2017.
Ag census stats, like those just mentioned, are used by USDA, decision-makers, agribusinesses, researchers, and others to make informed decisions that help keep farming viable and profitable. The 2022 Census of Agriculture, going on now, will provide an update on the data needed to plan for the next generation of farmers.