The Changing Dynamics of Land Ownership

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Changes in land ownership and the farming workforce are unfolding across U.S. agriculture. Among key drivers, of course, is the aging population of American farmers and ranchers:
  • In the next 15 years, the ownership of 40% of America’s agricultural land will be in transition, mostly due to aging landowners, reports American Farmland Trust (AFT).
  • Further, USDA’s 2017 Census of Agriculture found the average age of U.S. farmers had climbed to 57.5 years in a five-year span. The survey also noted the age of agriculture’s primary producers was even higher at 59.4 years old.

But other dynamics are also coming into play. Millennials, or Generation Y, are rising to become agriculture’s leaders, managers, and decision-makers. Now reaching their 40s, Millennials came of age in a world much different from that of their Baby Boomer parents.

They’ve been shaped by the Internet, mobile devices, and social media. They’re comfortable with technology, innovation, diversity, and a broader global view. Millennials are typically more formally educated too, with a higher rate of ag and business related degrees.

And, increasingly, agriculture’s changing faces are female. Today, 43% of U.S. farmland — nearly 388 million acres— is farmed or co- farmed by women, AFT notes. Meanwhile, according to USDA’s 2017 ag census, 36% of all producers are women, and more than half of all farms have at least one female decision-maker.

It is important to recognize these emerging trends and changes on the farm, in case your business needs to adopt or adapt to new methodologies for greater opportunities.

For more on this and other key trends in American agriculture, click here to read From Policy to Plate: An Outlook on Agriculture.

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