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Beginners and Women On the Rise in Agriculture

It can be hard to be the new rancher on the block, but the 2017 Census of Agriculture reveals one important factor about beginning producers: they’re making their mark on New Mexico farming and ranching. The same can be said for women. This census data, recently released by the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), gives us a look at trends across the country and in the Land of Enchantment.

26% of the state’s producers are new producers, according to the census data. We know New Mexico is a pretty unique place, and one of the reasons it stands out is its growth in farm numbers. It’s clear that New Mexico is synonymous with agriculture, and New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte credits the age of those new producers to this ag culture.

“Within the 26 percent of farmers who consider themselves new or beginning farmers, the average age is 50.1, which tells us that New Mexicans are returning to farming from other careers,” Witte said in High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal.

There was also a large rise in female producers in 2017, thanks to a change in the way the USDA counts producers, which gives female producers more credit for their decision-making powers on the farm.

“The number of female producers...was calculated by allowing up to four producers at each operation to report,” NASS New Mexico State Statistician Longino Bustillos said. “This more accurately reflects... the number of female producers making decisions on the farm.” Bustillos said this change in calculation also affected the average age, reflecting the authority of younger producers at their operation.

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