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Beginning Farm Operations Tend to be in the South and West

Beginning farms tend to be more concentrated in Southern and Western States than in other areas of the United States, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. Data published Monday by ERS shows that in some counties in California and Texas, the proportion of beginning farms is more than one-third of the total farms.

As of 2017, there were about 340,000 farms—with almost 900,000 operators—on which all operators were beginning farmers with ten or fewer years of farm management experience. Most beginning farms are small-scale operations, about 67 percent of beginning farms produce less than $10,000 worth of output. Less than two percent of beginning farms achieve an annual production value of more than $1 million.

Among farms with at least $10,000 in production, principal operators of beginning farms were 43 years old on average. In contrast, the age of operators of established farms averaged 63 years old. USDA offers numerous resources for beginning farmers.


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