American Farmland Trust understands just how vital success for the next generation of farmers and ranchers is — most notably in terms of securing suitable land to start with and later to expand their operations. In that vein, AFT has selected its first group of certified Land Access Trainers for the Farms for the Next Generation initiative.
The project’s trainers will deliver a professionally designed experiential curriculum to teach beginning farmers and ranchers how to lease, purchase, and receive land through inheritance or gift, along with find and assess land, and the basic financial skills needed to make informed land access decisions.
“AFT selected 25 experienced agricultural educators and service providers from across the country to serve as the inaugural class of LATs to deliver this critical curriculum. We received more than 100 applications and ran a competitive process to find a group that could work with diverse beginning farmers and ranchers across the U.S. and train additional trainers as we expand the program,” said Julia Freedgood, assistant vice president of programs.
She continued, “These LATs represent the start of a nationwide network to support beginning farmers and ranchers as they sort through the financial, legal and technical challenges of gaining access to land.”
Farming is facing a rapidly approaching huge demographic shift of land and wealth.
While landowners overall are aging (more than 40 percent of American farmland is owned by seniors aged 65 or older), beginners are on the rise. There are almost 1 million new and beginning producers, with 10 years or less of experience.
The challenge is the potential disconnect: getting new farmers on the land as senior farmers retire. Providing support for beginning farmers as they work to overcome the biggest hurdle they face in starting a farming operation, access to land, while supporting senior farmers in successfully transferring their farms as they exit farming — this is what AFT’s Farmland for a Next Generation seeks to address.
Land Access Trainers are spread throughout the country to specialize in their region’s unique land issues. Our network of LATs will work with beginning farmers and ranchers, alongside adjacent professionals, to navigate the terrain of land transition in its varied structures.
“This curriculum is like having a guide to helping beginning farmers with their land questions. I have never seen that before, all of that knowledge and information in one place is what AFT has achieved,” said Dr. Siddhartha Dasgupta of Kentucky State University.