In an effort to determine the financial health of Oklahoma farms and ranches, Oklahoma Farm Bureau joined forces with Oklahoma State University to distribute a survey to the state’s producers.
“We felt like we needed to know statistically the financial shape of our farmers and ranchers,” said Steve Kouplen, Oklahoma Farm Bureau president. “This will help us formulate policy decisions as we work with Congress on developing a farm program that works for everyone.”
There were no major surprises, said Michael Dicks, OSU agricultural economist, but a brief summary of the demographic results are interesting.
* The average age of the survey respondents was 59. According to 2002 Agricultural Census figures the average age of Oklahoma farmers is 56.
* Average owned acres was 718. Census data indicates 404 acres is the average size.
* Average distance to a town with a population of 10,000 was 27 miles.
* 70 percent of the respondents have a college degree.
* 65 percent reported their spouse works off the farm.
* 54 percent reported the operator works off the farm. Census data shows 2002 percentage was 44 percent.
Dicks said he hopes Oklahoma can develop a financial management program similar to the successful programs in Kansas and Texas.
“Establishing a sound and statistically reliable survey of farm household’s current financial situation allows researchers to aid policymakers in making more effective decisions,” Dicks said.
A unique aspect of the Kansas Farm Management Association’s survey is that farms are tracked throughout time, and the survey is an actual reflection of the same farms each year. This provides financial information regarding farm household trends.
The Oklahoma survey was distributed to a random sampling of Farm Bureau members earlier this year, and plans are being made to follow up the survey with additional questions.