Beginning ranchers might consider leasing cows

Farm Forum

Declining numbers of farmers and ranchers and the increasing age of those who remain in the business are fueling the call to bring in and train young farmers and ranchers.

That has resulted in the development of programs to facilitate and promote arrangements between retiring and aspiring young farmers. But even with such programs, including government-backed loans to new farmers, this is problematic because the competition from expanding farms for land can be fierce.

“Finding opportunities for new players amid the consolidation into much larger but fewer farms driven by recent profitability, new technology and risk protection policies is challenging,” says John Dhuyvetter, area Extension livestock specialist at North Dakota State University’s North Central Research Extension Center near Minot. “The reality is that getting started is as difficult as ever, with the exception of the next generation of families currently established with large, successful operations.”

With soaring land prices, the high cost of equipment and breeding stock, and escalating operating costs, startup operations will have a limited opportunity to own high-capital-cost assets. When ownership isn’t possible, leasing will be more likely. Leasing agricultural land is common, and for most farmers and ranchers, the majority of acreage they operate is leased. However, most