3 keys to farming’s future: OARDC scientist shares findings

The top concerns for the future of U.S. farming? An aging farm population. The need to successfully transition land ownership from senior farmers to new entrants in the industry. And providing those new entrants — beginning farmers — with training and support.

So said Ani Katchova (pictured, left), associate professor and Farm Income Enhancement chair in the Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, speaking in the department’s Agricultural Policy and Outlook series on Dec. 7.

Using data from the 2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture, Katchova and Mary Ahearn of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service analyzed the age distribution of all farmers and beginning farmers. They also examined, for example, how many beginning farmers enter the industry every year and how they grow their operations.

They found, among other things, significant challenges facing beginning farmers, or those with less than 10 years of experience, and young farmers, or those less than 35 years old. Both groups reported needing more support and training and help in getting access to farmland.

Such findings, Katchova said, “make it important for policy makers to have a clearer sense of their policy goals in targeting beginning farmers, including targeting young farmers and tailoring farm policy support for their needs.”

“Policy makers [must] have a clearer sense of their policy goals in targeting beginning farmers.”—Ani Katchova

‘Beginning farmers can be any age’

  • “Most people think of beginning farmers either as young or older, second-career farmers,” Katchova said. “However, statistics show that beginning farmers can be of any age, with the highest number of beginning farmers being mid-age.”
  • To contact the scientist: Ani Katchova at katchova.1@osu.edu.

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