Beginning Farmers & Ranchers | South Dakota Department of Agriculture

Beginning Farmers & Ranchers

Young FarmerBeginning Farmers and U.S. Agriculture

The population of U.S. agriculture is poised to make a dramatic change — half of all current farmers are likely to retire in the next decade. U.S. farmers over age 55 control more than half the farmland, while the number of entry-level farmers replacing them has fallen by 30 percent since 1987 and now makes up only 10 percent of farmers and ranchers.

This aging trend in the agricultural industry is a growing concern. Along with that, the number of farms are decreasing while the average farm size is increasing. The concentration of large farms is an increasing challenge to beginning producers to purchase agricultural land.

Beginners have different needs than established farmers and ranchers.

Beginning farmers often lack the capital and the scale of operation to make profits with high-cost technologies and production systems that are the focus of many research and education programs. The SDDA's programs on behalf of beginning farmers address these needs.

Financing for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers

Before seeking outside financing, beginning farmers and ranchers need to do some basic planning. Review eight important factors beginning farmers and ranchers should consider before seeking financing: financial picture overview. Then look at potential funding sources in a review of beginning farmer financing programs.

We advocate for innovative measures like the SDDA's Beginning Farmer Bond that make it possible for lenders, individuals, partnerships, corporations, and other entities to receive federally tax-exempt interest with respect to a loan or contract sale made to a beginning farmer or rancher.

For more information, contact:

Terri LaBrie, Finance Administrator