National Institute of Food and Agriculture
The U.S. agricultural population is poised to make a dramatic change – half of all current farmers are likely to retire in the next decade. According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, the average age of farm operators was 57 years. Farmers over the age 55 own more than half the farmland in the U.S. But the number of new farmers and ranchers over the age of 35 is increasing, as does the number of smaller farms and ranches nationwide. To address the needs of this changing generation, Section 7410 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Pub .L. No. 110-234) amended Section 7405 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 and made available in Fiscal Year 2009, $17.2 million to fund a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP). According to these legislations, a beginning farm is considered to be one that is operated by one or more operators who have 10 years or less of experience operating a farm or ranch. In 2007, approximately 21 percent of family farms met that definition.
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