A new survey released by the Wisconsin Farm Center shows that about three-quarters of Wisconsin’s beginning farmers intend to remain on their farms for at least 20 years. These individuals started businesses between 2008 and 2012.
Further, approximately 40 percent said they intend to stay on their farms for at least another 30 years. The survey was commissioned by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection in 2014. Farmers who had reported on the 2012 Census of Agriculture and had been farming for five years or less responded to the survey.
"In order to know the best way to assist beginning farmers, we needed to understand the dynamics of their operations, along with their demographics, knowledge base and skills, and perceptions,” said Kathy Schmitt, who oversees of the Wisconsin Farm Center. “That's why we undertook this survey. We learned that more than 60 percent were the first generation on their farms, and that most do not have a written business plan. That's important for us to know when we develop programs to help them."
The farmers represented in the survey operate in dairy, cash grains, livestock, fruits, vegetables and specialty crop sectors. After money management and financial knowledge, farmers said that production knowledge and work ethic are critical to their success.