Beginning/New Farmers

A Boy Takes a Break from Working in the Corn Field

Half of all current farmers in the U.S. are likely to retire in the next decade. Enlisting and supporting new farmers is essential to the future of family farms, the farm economy and healthy rural communities.


USDA. National Agricultural Library. And American Farm Bureau Federation.

Developed to assist beginning farmers or ranchers or those who have less than 10 years experience, Start2Farm includes programs and resources from federal and state agencies, educational institutions and non-governmental organizations including grassroots organizations.

Beginning Farmers. An Online Resource for Farmers, Researchers, and Policy Makers.

Michigan State University.

Presents information and ideas for "new, experienced, and potential farmers interested in the development of new farm enterprises." Covers sustainable practices, organic farming, small farm issues, direct marketing, and building local food systems.

Farm Transitions Toolkit

Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture.

The Toolkit offers resources, advice and help to plan for transitioning farmland to the next generation. Links to farmer success stories, farmer transitions programs, government programs, fact sheets, courses, planning tools, legal resources, and more. Also details ten common sustainable agriculture and conservation practices for farming your land.

Guidebook for Beginning Farmers

The Greenhorns.

Written for young farmers to help young farmers find the information they need to enter the field of sustainable agriculture. Covers educational opportunities, access to farmland, business planning, farming systems, marketing, urban agriculture and more.

Beginning Farmers and Ranchers (PDF | 2.49 mb)

USDA. Economic Research Service.

"This report draws on data from annual surveys and the Census of Agriculture to provide policymakers with a better understanding of beginning farmers and ranchers, including how they contribute to U.S. agricultural production." Coverage includes the definition of beginning farmers and ranchers; government programs; and past trends and future insights.

U.S. Farm Bill Resources and Programs for Beginning Farmers

For the first time ever, substantial resources were dedicated to beginning farmer and rancher initiatives in the 2008 Farm Bill. This article in Choices provides an overview of the status of different programs, and focuses on the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.

Occupational Outlook Handbook: Farmers, Ranchers, and Agricultural Managers

U.S. Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Basic information about what a farm career entails including descriptions of the work, education and training required, typical employment opportunities, job outlook, earnings/wage data and related occupations.

Business Development Tools for Beginning Farmers

Iowa State University. Cooperative Extension Service. Value Added Agriculture Program.

General information about farm leases and farm management, new farmer loan programs, beginning farmer training programs, mentoring programs for beginning farmers and more specific information about developing agricultural business and marketing plans. Predominantly from Iowa, but additional resources from the upper Midwestern U.S. and Canada also included.

Growing New Farmers

New England Small Farm Institute.

Programs, services and resources for new farmers in the 12 Northeast states and beyond. Includes: directory of programs and services for new farmers, reports about new farmers and their service needs, tools and resources for new farmers and for working with new farmers and programs/projects for new farmers.

Beginning Farm Center

Iowa State University. Cooperative Extension Service.

Iowa resources for new farmers looking for support, land, training and contacts.

International Farm Transition Network

International Farm Transition Network.

The network supports programs that foster the next generation of farmers and ranchers. Site includes information and state contacts for "Land Link" programs - programs that match retiring farmers/land with new farmers seeking land and support.

Beginning Farming: Link List

University of Missouri Extension. Missouri Alternatives Center.

Find free online how-to publications from U.S. and Canadian sources including Starting or Diversifying an Agricultural Business (PDF 532 KB) (Pennsylvania State University Extension) and What Can I Do With My Small Farm (Ohio State University Extension).

USDA Service Center Agencies Online Services

United States Department of Agriculture.

USDA service agency contacts, tools and eforms for farmers from the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Rural Development. Specific services include loans and mortgages, payment options, real estate sales and Farm Bill tools.