Monday, October 17, 2016
64% of farms will have new owners
It’s becoming increasingly difficult for older farmers to hand over their operations or keep them in the family. It’s as challenging as ever for younger would-be farm operators to gain access to the land. The graying of Oregon’s farmers and ranchers is an issue receiving a closer look this fall following a new report examining the future of the state’s farmland, who will own it, and what will be done with it. The report will be followed up later this month by a farm succession workshop and other events designed to help promote a transition to the next generation. “I can’t think of any other industry sector that is so focused on the graying element than agriculture,” says Jim Johnson, land use specialist with the Oregon Department of Agriculture. “No other industry has an average age of principal business owner higher than agriculture.” Oregon State University, Portland State University, and the non-profit organization Rogue Farm Corps combined to produce the report, The Future of Oregon’s Agricultural Land. Among its findings– an estimated 64 percent of Oregon’s farmland, more than 10 million acres, will have new owners over the next two decades. That figure is based on an average age of Oregon farm operator that sits at 60 years old, which has steadily increased the past few decades. “When you consider the management of Oregon farms is predominantly family operated, a change in ownership is a real issue in terms of what will happen to that land base,” says Johnson. Whenever there is a change of farm ownership, there is likely to be some consideration of what to do with that land. Massive ownership change could potentially mean big changes in agriculture.