Operators and spouses on beginning farms are even more likely than their counterparts on established farms to work at off-farm jobs and businesses, and are also more likely to have a college degree. Off-farm income can enable beginning farmers and spouses to meet living expenses and/or to expand farm operations if their long-term goal is to farm full time.
Our new report, Beginning Farmers and Ranchers at a Glance, also compares beginning farms and ranches with established enterprises by other characteristics, including commodity specialties, participation in government programs, and value of production. (Additional information on beginning farmers and ranchers can be found on the ERS website.)
USDA’s 2012 Census of Agriculture and the Department’s Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS), both currently underway, will yield updated data on these and other farms. We encourage beginning farmers and ranchers to participate in the Census and in ARMS, in order to be counted and in order for policy makers and program administrators to have an accurate picture of these farms.