What We Know About The Demographics of U.S. Farm Operators

Every five years when the census of agriculture results are released new alarms are sounded about the advancing ages of farmers and what it will mean for farm structure and farm succession. Unfortunately, census collections through 1997 provided limited information to shed light on those concerns. This was particularly true since demographic data such as gender, age, race, and Hispanic ethnicity were collected only for the “principal” operator of each farm. However, for the 2002 Census of Agriculture information was collected for the first time on the total number of operators on each farm, and demographic information for the first three operators. Another key 2002 addition was asking how many individuals lived in the household of each operator.

This paper is one of the first attempts to glean meaning from the new questions. Most tables in the paper extract information already available in the 2002 Census electronic files. A few data tables were generated by reanalysis of the originally reported data for multiple operators of the same farm. All tables are available on the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Web site at www.usda.gov/nass/ under Census of Agriculture.

Downloadable Documents: 
Author: 
Rich Allen and Ginger Harris
Publisher: 
Washington, DC: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service
Page Numbers: 
17
Publication Date: 
February 25, 2005
Literature Category: 
Reports and Studies