Date of Graduation

Spring 2023


Master of Science in Agriculture


College of Agriculture

Committee Chair

Christine Sudbrock


As the average age of the American farmer continues to increase (NASS, 2019), concerns about attracting future agriculturalists remain. Several governmental programs exist to assist beginning farmers and ranchers (generally defined as those with 10 years or less experience as a principal operator), but unfortunately numerous barriers remain. Using focus groups and qualitative analysis, this research aims to identify critical factors of success. Focus group participants were farmers who participated in beginning farmer and rancher programs, those who had not participated in beginning farmer and rancher programs, and program administrators . Attention was paid to their use of social capital as they entered the industry.


beginning farmers, social capital, social networks, trust, reciprocation, beginning farmer and rancher programs, focus groups


© Claire E. Eggerman

Open Access