The U.S. Department of Agriculture says beginning farmers are those who have managed farms for ten year or less. Beginning farmers are less likely to survive in business than those farmers who have more experience. Census of Agriculture data says 48 percent of beginning farmers with positive sales numbers in 2007 also had positive sales numbers in 2012. That number compares with a 55 percent rate in the number of other farms with more experienced operators. A USDA news release says running larger operations and selling directly to consumers through things like roadside stands and farmers’ markets may actually help beginning farmers stay in business. Beginning farms with direct-to-consumer sales had a survival rate of just over 53 percent while those without DTC sales survived at 47 percent. The difference in survival rates for different-sized farms was substantial, ranging from nine percent of the largest farms to four percent of the smaller farms. The USDA says farmers with direct-to-consumer sales can get a higher price for their product and reach a certain level of sales with less machinery and land. That can mean a more stable and higher source of income and a need to borrow less money, which can also mean a better chance of survival.
From the National Association of Farm Broadcasting news service.