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Farm entry and exit from US agriculture

Ani L. Katchova (Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA)
Mary Clare Ahearn (Economic Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA)

Agricultural Finance Review

ISSN: 0002-1466

Article publication date: 2 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to use a linked-farm approach and a cohort approach to estimate farm entry and exit rates using the US Census of Agriculture. The number of new farms entering agriculture was re-estimated and adjusted upward since not all new and beginning farmers are known to US Department of Agriculture.


In addition to a linked-farm approach (linking farms over time), a cohort approach (farms that started operating in the same year) is used to determine exit rates conditional on the number of years a farm has been operating. Linear forecasting, moving-average forecasting, and using data from a later Census are used to re-estimate the number of new farms in their first year of operating.


Using the linked-farm approach, an average annual entry rate of 7.5 percent and exit rate of 8.5 percent is estimated for 2007 to 2012, which vary based on the farmer’s lifecycle. The cohort approach shows that exit rates are lower than 4 percent for the first 40 years of operating a farm business and then exit rates gradually increase. Revised estimates of approximately 70-80,000 new farms entering each year are calculated, which are considerably higher numbers than the 30-40,000 new farm entrants participating in the Census of Agriculture.


The linked-farm and cohort approaches are used to provide updated estimates for farm entry and exit using new Census data and to make comparisons with previous years. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to provide revised estimates for new farm entrants into US agriculture.



Katchova, A.L. and Ahearn, M.C. (2017), "Farm entry and exit from US agriculture", Agricultural Finance Review, Vol. 77 No. 1, pp. 50-63.



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