Bulletin #4800, Maine Family Farms: Life and Business in Balance

By Extension Human Development Specialist Leslie Forstadt and Extension Professor Tori Jackson, University of Maine

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This publication series, Maine Family Farms: Life and Business in Balance, provides ideas for you to consider about the non-technical skills of farming like how to have family conversations, managing stress, and talk about life and business balance, or what many are calling now “work/life integration.” Whatever it means to you, we hope this series provides useful ideas to consider. Titles include:


dad and daughter in corn field

There are many pieces to put into place to support a farm’s success. According to the most recent agricultural census, the number of Maine farms decreased from over 8,000 in the 2012 census to 7,600 in 20171, a loss of 7%. On the farm, the average age of the principal operator remained steady at 57 years old, and almost half (48%) of Maine’s farmers reported farming as their primary occupation. Among Maine farms, 30% of principal operators are women, corresponding with a rise in the total number of women principal producers from 2,381 to 4,265. In 2017, the census collected information about up to four primary producers, and the data reflect the number of producers across all age groups increased, but did so at varying rates. For example, the percentage of farmers under 44 increased by 9.6% compared to the 30% increase of farmers who are 65 and older.2

At each life stage, farmers and farm families have needs that are unique. These needs will influence decisions about farming practices, child-rearing, business growth, and succession planning.

There are rewards and stressors at each stage of farm business and farm family life. This series of publications was designed with the people of Maine’s farming industry in mind. Interpersonal and intrapersonal needs are addressed, as readers are encouraged to think about, discuss, and access resources to support the personal experiences and relationships in family farming. We hope that these fact sheets will help foster farm family sustainability.


1 USDA/NASS 2018 State Agriculture Overview, Maine

2 Maine Farmland Trust article: Results of 2017 Ag Census Concerning for Maine Farms and Farmland


Information in this publication is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.

© 2014, 2019

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