Farm Transfers and Retirement

Right now, the American farming population is aging, and new farmers aren’t getting in:

  • Half of all current farmers likely to retire in the next decade.
  • Farmers over age 55 control more than half of U.S. farmland.
  • Number of entry-level farmers has fallen by 30 percent since 1987.
  • New farmers make up only 10 percent of farmers and ranchers.

What happens when these aging farmers and ranchers are no longer working the land? Their lands concentrates in bigger and bigger and bigger operations, and we lose our family farms and ranches and our rural communities.

What makes it hard for beginners? Several factors make it difficult for new farmers and ranchers to get started and become profitable:

  • Limited access to landland linking connects new farmers to land.
  • High cost of landland matching allows for arrangements to bring land purchase within reach for beginners through limited down payments, low interest rates, extended land contract periods, trading labor for ownership, and more.
  • High cost of production technologieslinking allows for transfer of equipment along with land.
  • Small scale of operations unsuited to conventional production systems and marketsland linking beginners who begin on a small operation can access high value markets.

Risk Management Resources

Our documents are available to help farmers and ranchers use estate planning tools better. Lessons include:

  • basic on retirement planning
  • transferring and transitioning ownership of a farm or ranch
  • expert advice from experienced financial and legal counselors

These documents are provided as guides to introduce these topics. Many issues in estate planning require the specialized help of accountants or lawyers, to meet both your goals and the legal requirements. These guides DO NOT REPLACE expert advice from a professional. Instead, they are intended to help you figure out your needs, goals, and strategies so that you can consult professional legal and tax advisers with an informed and considered approach to your retirement planning, reducing the time and expense of working with them.

Reports available in the series (all links are to pdf files of varying lengths): 

This project was made possible through a grant from the North Central Risk Management Education Center to inform farmers and ranchers of their options for retiring or beginning in agriculture. These reports were prepared by the Center for Rural Affairs. Other partners in the project include the North Central Risk Management Education Center and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 

Retirement planning resources

These documents are to help farmers and ranchers use estate planning tools better. They are provided as guides to introduce these topics, and are not intended to replace expert advice from a professional.

Alphabetically, here are additional resources to help farmers and ranchers make an informed and considered approach to your retirement planning, reducing the time and expense of working with legal and tax advisers. 

This project was made possible through a grant from the North Central Risk Management Education Center to inform farmers and ranchers of their options for retiring or beginning in agriculture. These reports were prepared by the Center for Rural Affairs. Other partners in the project include the North Central Risk Management Education Center and the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.