; Growing Wisconsin Farmers | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Growing Wisconsin Farmers

Joy Kirkpatrick


The average age of Wisconsin farmers is 52 years old. Our farming community, as well as the nation as a whole, is witnessing the graying of America and feeling the effects of the aging of the baby boomers. Traditional farm entry pathways have not provided the numbers of beginning farmers to match the numbers of exiting farmers. Recent survey work in Wisconsin indicates this trend will continue, if not escalate. As Wisconsin loses farmers, it is also losing farm land. Farm land is being lost, not only to urbanization, but also to recreational pursuits and to retirement/vacation homes.
Research shows that successful entrants bring together business management skills, equity, effective production systems, marketing strategies, and social support. Their success is the result of an appropriate balance of resources, skills and goals.
Since 2002, a state wide Beginning Farmer Working Group has focused on this imbalance between entering and exiting farmers. During the first two years, the group organized state-wide meetings to learn exactly what issues and barriers beginning farmers face. This group also has identified and addressed the need for local support networks and regional workshops.
In 2004-2005, the Regional Beginning Farmer Workshops were held in three locations throughout Wisconsin. Approximately 250 people attended these workshops. Workshop evaluations are currently being tabulated. Results will reveal the impact workshops had on the behaviors and increase in knowledge of beginning and exiting farmers in the areas of farm entry, exit and retirement.

Presentation Materials