Date of this Version
In the next decades, aging farmers in the United States will make decisions that affect almost 1 billion acres of land. The future of this land will become more uncertain as farm transfer becomes more difficult, potentially changing the structure of agriculture through farm consolidation, changes in farm ownership and management, or taking land out of production. The Great Plains Population and Environment Project interviewed farmers and their spouses between 1997 and 1999. Farm Family Survey participants were ambiguous about their plans to leave farming, transfer land to others, and even long-term land use, largely due to concerns about the continued economic viability of farming. Participants living far from metropolitan areas expected to sell or rent to other farmers, while those near residential real-estate markets expected to sell to developers. Delays in planning for retirement and succession were common, further threatening the success of intergenerational transitions.