Pilot Project: Older Farmers: Factors Influencing Their Retirement Decisions

(NIOSH/CDC, 2000-2001) Agriculture has been recognized as one of the most hazardous occupations in the United States. In an industry where a quarter of all farm operators are 65 years of age or older, age becomes a serious factor when considering potential risk for injuries. This project explored reasons influencing the retirement decisions of farmers within five counties in Eastern Washington. The research project investigated reasons why leaving farm, not participating in farm work, and transitioning farm ownership to others is so difficult for elder farmers. Areas of inquiry included economic circumstances, issues related to loss of power in transferring the farm, and the loss of place identity. Additionally, potential risk factors which contribute to increased injuries among this population (i.e. self-reported health status and prevalence of health conditions and current use of prescription medications) were explored.