American Farmland Trust — an organization that protects agricultural land, promotes environmentally sound farming practices, and keeps farmers on the land — has received an award from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. American Farmland Trust was able to fund the Transitioning Land to a New Generation: Preparing Trainers to Help Facilitate Transfer project from the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.
All together with the award and match, the program’s $750,000 will go to develop a skills-based curriculum to support a new generation of producers and agricultural landowners as they confront the complex financial, legal and interpersonal issues related to agricultural land and business transfer.
“More than 40 percent of American farmland is owned by seniors aged 65 and older. Given they are at retirement age, the land is likely to change hands in the foreseeable future,” said Julia Freedgood, AFT director of Farms for a New Generation. “At the same time, it is difficult for a new generation of farmers and ranchers to acquire affordable land with appropriate housing and infrastructure due to farm consolidation, appreciation of land values, conversion of farmland to development, and a tight supply of land to purchase or rent. American Farmland Trust is working to bride this gap.”
Connecting a diverse new generation with the right landowners is challenging.
AFT will be working with a national cohort of service providers who support an increasingly diverse new generation of producers and a wide range of landowners including land trusts, non-farming women landowners, farm families, and institutions.
“It takes extra skill to bridge cultural, demographic, and production system differences. And it takes extra effort to connect new generation producers with nonoperator landowners, local governments, land trusts, churches, and other institutions who have land and are willing to make it available to them,” said Suzanna Denison, program manager, Farms for a New Generation. “AFT will focus on how to build relationships that foster productive communication skills and help a diverse new generation of producers find secure land options to grow their businesses, feed their communities all while responsibly stewarding the land.”
The project is part of AFT’s on-going effort to ensure a new generation of producers can succeed in agriculture.