Information from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that access to affordable farmland remains a significant obstacle for young and beginning farmers. While there are several programs that are specifically designed to assist young and beginning farmers, structural barriers remain for younger individuals looking to get started in the industry.
According to the last USDA Census of Agriculture, farmers between the ages of 25 and 34 actually grew by 2.2 percent between 2007 and 2012. However, nearly a third of farming operations are still being led by someone age 65 or older. That is due in part to the high cost of farmland, making it difficult for farmers aged 40 and under to become landowners.
Farmland prices have increased nearly 2 percent in 2018 to a national average of $3,140 an acre. Some of the most expensive farmland includes Iowa, with average prices as high as $8,080. California’s average prices are close to $9,000.
Census data also shows that nearly 92 million acres are expected to change hands between 2015 and 2019. Acquiring affordable farmland will remain challenging for younger farmers, particularly those who are brand new to the agriculture industry who did not grow up on a farm and are not already aware of the resources available to them.