Purpose: the purpose of this study was to collect baseline prevalence data on the health problems faced by minority, white, and female farm operators. Methods: an occupational health survey of farm operators was conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Statistics Service between February and August 2000. A stratified random sample of farm operators from 50 U.S. states based on the 1997 Census of Agriculture was selected for telephone interview. Interviews were primarily conducted using a computer assisted telephone instrument system. Results: population prevalences were calculated for 7137 farm operators. Prevalences were greatest for musculoskeletal discomfort, followed by respiratory problems, hearing loss, and hypertension. Generally, Latino and Asian American operators had lower prevalences for health problems than white non-Latino and white operators, respectively. African-American operators had greater prevalences for hypertension, and osteoarthritis, but lower prevalences for hearing loss, skin problems, heart problems, and cancer than white operators. American Indian or Alaska Native operators had higher prevalences for musculoskeletal problems, skin problems, and hypertension. Conclusions: prevalences for the different ethnicity and race groups are not the same. Studies that combine racial and ethnic groups, or study only white and non-Latino farm operators may overestimate or underestimate the prevalence of health conditions in the entire farm operator population.