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Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

by Mary Ahearn and Doris Newton

Economic Information Bulletin No. (EIB-53) 32 pp, May 2009

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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.

Keywords: Agricultural statistics, Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS), beginning farmers, ranchers, Census of Agriculture, farm assets, Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, Conservation Reserve Program, operator characteristics

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Last updated: Saturday, May 26, 2012

For more information contact: Mary Ahearn and Doris Newton

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