The idea of an "agricultural ladder" was put forth 40 years ago. But, like the pattern of farm ownership itself and the ways in which owners get their farms, the pathways to farm ownership have changed over time.
Strohbehn, Roger W. and Timmons, John F.
"Changing Paths to Farm Ownership,"
Iowa Farm Science: Vol. 14
, Article 4.
Available at: http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/farmscience/vol14/iss9/4