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New Jersey is heavily urbanized, with 92.2 percent of its population residing within urbanized areas.  According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, 36% of U.S. farmers are women and 56% of all farms have at least one female decision maker. New Jersey has some of the highest per-acre farmland in the nation  which presents a unique disadvantage for new farmers in the Garden State. According to a study by the National Agriculture Statistics Service (USDA NASS) the cost of farmland in New Jersey averages $14,400 per acre, almost four times the national average of $3,380. For new farmers on small acreage, earning high profits per acre is the only way their farm can be sustainable. To overcome the barriers to farming in New Jersey such as small size and high cost of land, most new farmers in New Jersey produce specialty crops. Unlike farmers who produce field crops, specialty crop producers bear the entire price, market, and production risks because these crops have had minimal government support programs..

New and beginning farmers face two primary obstacles: high startup costs and a lack of viable land for purchase or rent (which is further intensified in the state of New Jersey). Because these farmers have limited resources, they must manage resources efficiently. According to the 2017 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), farms with female producers making decisions tend to be smaller than average in both acres and value of production. The average size of farms in New Jersey is only 76 acres, so they are often unable to reap the benefits of economies of scale and therefore have a higher cost to benefit ratio of production.

Urban farmers face unique challenges that include soil quality issues such as lead contamination, off-farm employment requiring time management skills, irrigation water quality and availability, direct marketing in food deserts, food safety, working with WIC and SNAP-Ed clients, overcoming language and cultural barriers, and acquiring short-term leased land.

New Jersey farmers are innovative and diverse, with many growing specialty crops and selling directly to consumers.  This Rutgers Farm Management Website provides resources to help New Jersey farmers continue to thrive in the Garden State.