Beth Hoffman was living the good life: she had a career as a journalist and professor, and a comfortable home in San Francisco. Yet in her late 40s, she and her husband decided to leave the big city and move to his family farm in Iowa—all for the dream of becoming a farmer, to put into practice everything she had learned over decades of reporting on food and agriculture. There was just one problem: money.
The economics of agriculture are shocking: half of America’s two million farms made less than $300 in 2019. Between rising land costs, ever-more expensive equipment, and the growing uncertainty of the climate, farming today is a risky business. For many, simply staying afloat is a constant struggle. Even for those with a decent nest egg and access to land, like Beth and John had, making ends meet at times seems impossible. Bet the Farm is a first-hand account of the perils of farming today and a personal exploration of more just and sustainable ways of producing food.