Friday, September 20, 2019

Oregon's Aging Principal Farm Producers

According to the 2017 Agricultural Census, Oregon’s farm acreage totaled about 16 million in 2017, with 37,616 farms and 67,595 producers. The age of an Oregon principal farm producer averaged 58.9 years in 2017. Wheeler County’s farm producers led the state, averaging 63.7 years of age, while Harney County’s represented the youngest, at 55.6 on average. By age group, producers ages 55 to 64 led Oregon in 2017, representing about 29 percent of all principal farm producers. The 65 to 74 age group followed closely, representing more than one out of four producers or 26 percent. Producers in the 75 years and over group totaled 6,511 to represent 12 percent of Oregon’s total. Together, farmers age 55 and older represented 66 percent of Oregon’s principal farm producers. This compares to 23 percent of workers across all other industries in the same year.

The term producer designates a person who is involved in making decisions for the farm operation. Decisions may include planning about such things as planting, harvesting, livestock management, and marketing. The producer may be the owner, a member of the owner’s household, a hired manager, a tenant, a renter, or a sharecropper. A principal producer is a producer who indicated they were a principal operator. A farm can have multiple principal producers. Each farm has at least one principal producer. 

There were 54,450 principal producers in 2017 with a 60/40 split between males, numbering 32,903 and females, at 21,547. Principal producers were also asked whether their primary occupation was farming. The majority of principal producers, 57 percent, worked off the farm, spending less than 50 percent of his/her work time during 2017 farming or ranching. The remaining 43 percent of principal producers spent 50 percent or more of his/her work time during 2017 farming or ranching, making their primary occupation farming. 

The vast majority of principal producers, 47,595 or 87 percent, lived on the farm. Principal producers spend an average of 20.2 years at the same operation and an average of 22.5 years operating any farm. Principal producers in Gilliam County spent an average 24.1 years at the same farm, followed closely by Sherman County’s 23.3 years. Principal producers in Deschutes County, with an average tenure of 15.5 years, represented the new comers.

To learn more about Oregon's farms, revenues, and crops, read the full article by Regional Economist Dallas Fridley

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