How Multi-Generational Farming Operations Make Major Purchase Decisions

by Mark Smither
November 4, 2011

To meet the rising global demand for food, today’s modern farming operations must continually explore ways to improve production. For some farms, that means acquiring more acres or upgrading to larger pieces of equipment. For others, it may mean selecting a new hybrid or adding the latest precision ag system. The challenges that come with increasing productivity also create a compelling need to make the right purchase decision.

Adding to these challenges are three important factors:

  1. Most agricultural land is currently owned by older producers. It is estimated that 70 percent of all farmland will change hands in the next 20 years.1
  2. As an older generation of farmers prepares for retirement, a younger generation of sons and daughters is becoming more involved with the day-to-day responsibilities of running a family farm.
  3. Many of the important purchase decisions are usually made by more than one person.2

This creates a unique decision-making dynamic that has many agri-marketers asking, “How do multi-generational farming operations make major purchase decisions?”

To answer this question, Paulsen conducted 14 different interviews with farm families in Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, Illinois and Nebraska. We spoke with two different farming demographics: older row crop producers, ages 46 to 70, and younger row crop producers, ages 25 to 45. These demographics represent a typical father-son(s) or father-daughter(s) farming operation.

The purpose of these interviews was to gain insight into the purchase patterns of multi-generational farm families and identify ways agri-marketers can effectively reach this important audience.

1 Source: FarmLASTS, University of Vermont
2 Source: 2010 Farm Magazine Readership Study

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