Iowans wanting to get into agriculture must overcome numerous hurdles. In order to keep Iowa’s agricultural economy strong, we must ensure that first time farmers have the resources and support they need to be successful.

In 2013, Iowa had 88,500 farms averaging 346 acres. According to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics, the trend is that Iowa is losing farms while the size in acres is steadily increasing.

According to Iowa’s Beginning Farmer Center, the average age of farmers has been increasing and now two-thirds of Iowa farmers are over 50. They note this increase is a result of minimal incentives to encourage young farmers to enter into the profession and reluctance on the part of existing farmers to retire.

Also, high land prices are an issue for beginning farmers and those wanting to expand. The Beginning Farmer Center notes that the percent of farmland owned by people over the age of 65 is increasing and will likely continue to do so.

The Iowa Beginning Farmer Center is a joint effort of the Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and ISU Extension and Outreach, which deliver the Center’s programs and activities. Created in 1994 by the Iowa Legislature, the goal of the center is to provide resources to our next generation of farmers.