Off-farm work, intensity of government payments, and farm exits: Evidence from a national survey in the United States

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The last three decades have witnessed the continued exit of households from primary agriculture in the United States, where the average annual gross exit rate has averaged 10% per year. Understanding exit behavior is one key to future farm structure, management of abandoned land, depopulation of rural areas, and agricultural policy, including government program payments. This study empirically estimates the determinants of exit decisions of farm households. Particular attention is given to the roles of intensity of government payments and off-farm work decisions of farm couples in the exit decision. Using a large farm-level survey and controlling for endogeneity, results indicate that farm households with reduced intensity of government payments are more likely to exit farming. Households where the operator spouse works off the farm are more likely to exit farming. Additionally, households with older farmers, with the farm operator and spouse raised on a farm, and households operating farms located in Northern Great Plains are more likely to exit farming.

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Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics

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