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The Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers: Keeping the Dream of Farming Alive

As older farmers retire, fewer young farmers are stepping in to take their place. The number of beginning farmers dropped 20 percent in the last five-year census period, and the average US farmer now tops 58 years of age. more

CIAS Mini-Grants Support Graduate Student Research in Sustainable Agriculture

CIAS supports innovative graduate student research addressing the challenges faced by small- and medium-sized farms and food businesses. Awarded annually, our competitive mini-grants aid students as they initiate their research in sustainable agriculture and food systems. more


Announcing the 2019 Market Farm Madness Champion!

Hoophouse is your 2019 Market Farm Madness champion! They withstood high winds, late snow storms and controversy over cost share payments to win the tournament. more

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A Matter of Scale: Small Farms in the North Central Region

Posted February 2004

The size of the average farm in the Midwest grew steadily in the second half of the 20th century. As farm size has gone up, the number of farms has gone down. The shrinking number of farms in America no longer represents people liberated from the drudgery of agricultural toil. Instead it brings to mind families forced to leave the land and work they love by falling agricultural prices and rising costs of production.

As a result, some people have begun to work for the preservation of small farms. However, there is a great deal of uncertainty about this goal. The questions range from the philosophical, “If large farms are efficiently supplying our needs, is it right to worry about small ones?” to the basic, “What is a small farm?” and the practical, “What can be done to help small farms?”

This publication begins to answer some of these questions. Although the answers are neither simple nor definitive, the discussion here is intended to help agricultural professionals, farmers, and the public better understand and act on these challenging issues.

Download this report (PDF)