Generational farming is key to the ag-economy: What’s in store for its future?

Generational farming is the centerpiece of agriculture. The decisions that families face over the years can reshape the landscape as we know it.

As trends uncovered by the 2022 Census of Agriculture reveal, we are in for a transition.

Though farm and ranch families comprise 2% of the U.S. population, their impacts on the economy and at the dinner table are significant.

American agriculture is steeped in identity. The farm is both a home and a business, in some cases a family business that has been operating for 100 years or more.

Today, the family farm is a significant part of the agri-economy. Agriculture is the family farm. In the 2022 Ag Census, 95% of farms in the U.S. were family owned, and 9% of all farmers are under the age of 35.1 In total, US farms and ranches produced $543 billion in agricultural products, up from $389 billion in 2017.

Understanding generational farming: What it is and why it matters

Generational farming refers to the transition of a family-owned operation to the younger generation. The up-and-coming cohort typically grows up working on the farm, starting with helping their parents with the chores. As they reach adulthood and decide to make a career of the family business, they take on additional responsibilities and decision-making over the years.

As the trendlines in the Census of Agriculture demonstrate, ag producers are becoming older. In 2022, the average age of a producer was just over 58 years old. 

In the wake of the transition, lenders will need to cultivate an understanding of the emerging financial landscape of agriculture to capture future investment opportunities. All the while, lenders will be of value to the up-and-coming generation as they take over the operation by being attuned to their values, goals and needs.

These are top areas of focus for ag lenders over the next decade.

Succession planning

Some 80% of producers admit to not having a formal succession plan in place. Ask your ag clients about their plans and the steps they’ve taken. Meeting with financial and legal professionals, along with setting expectations with non-farming family members, are important first steps in planning for the future of the family legacy.

A rising class of first-generation farmers

The 2022 Ag Census reveals that there are just over 1 million farmers with 10 or fewer years of experience, an increase in the number of beginning farmers from 2017 of 11% — in other words, they’re not attached to a family operation. This suggests a shift into new generations of ownership along with newer styles of farm operation.

Expansion and technology

In the entire history of agriculture, efficiency has always driven its transformation. In the past 20 years, farms have made huge strides in terms of size and production. That will continue. Up-and-coming farmers taking over the family operation may be looking into purchasing neighboring parcels to scale production. Farmers will also continue to adopt precision agriculture tools and genetic modifications designed to boost yields and production.

Unlock capital solutions from Agri-Access

Generational farming is key to the agricultural economy, and as the current generation hands the reins to the newer generation, opportunities for investment and growth await.

Agri-Access can support your lending organization with technological innovations that streamline the borrowing process, along with lending solutions that protect your liquidity.

  • Participation loans: Long-term loans reduce your risk while catering to the farmer’s cash-flow needs.
  • Scorecard loans: Borrowers that qualify can skip the lengthy application and get answers in 48 hours or less.
  • Streamlined appraisals: Our unique services and programs help expedite the appraisal process, saving farmers time and money.
  • Leasing: Complete farm improvements before the transition for a hassle-free handoff.

Learn how participation loan offerings and other innovative solutions from Agri-Access can grow your ag portfolio. Reach out to a relationship manager today.


  1. USDA | 2022 Census of Agriculture Highlights

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