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Conference Name The Evolving Characteristics and Needs for Risk Management Education of Small and Large Agricultural Producers in the Intermountain Western United States

John P. Hewlett

Summary

The rural western U.S. has experienced dramatic shifts in demographics and economic factors over the past several decades. The makeup of farm operators is changing significantly, and enterprises are increasingly at greater production, financial, marketing, human, and institutional risks. As a result, a better understanding of the make-up of farm operators and their perceived threats is required to develop effective risk management education.

In order to expand upon data available from the Census of Agriculture and to obtain a more detailed view of farm and ranch enterprises, statistically valid surveys were conducted in 2006 and 2009 with producers across Wyoming, Colorado, and Arizona in cooperation with the National Agricultural Statistics Service. The 2006 survey targeted farm operations with annual sales of less than $50,000. The 2009 survey targeted farm operations with annual sales of $50,000 or more. To ensure a representative sample, the number of survey instruments was allocated based on the population of farm operators in each state. Data were collected on manager’s demographics, sources of risks, information sources and preferences, resource management, and income status.

The sketch of western farmers and ranchers presented in this paper is derived by a compilation of the data collected in the two surveys. It is intended to be descriptive of operator general characteristics. Gaining an understanding of manager risk preferences, social and demographic attributes, as well as preferences for information delivery and form can help educators better understand any gaps in delivery and how to best address the needs of Extension clientele.

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2011 Extension Risk Management Education National Conference