Progress 09/01/07 to 08/31/11
OUTPUTS: The Farmland Access, Tenure and Succession: Impacts on Small and Medium-sized Farms, Land Use and the Environment project is an integrated, multi-institutional project that conducted and evaluated research outreach and classroom education on: 1) farmland access and tenure for farm entrants; 2) farm succession challenges for exiting farm operators; and 3) the impacts of tenure and succession arrangements on land use and the environment. More specifically, the project will develop two educational modules to be used as classroom instruction, conduct outreach activities at regional and national levels, and research topics related to farm transfer education and policy. The project has completed its tasks, climaxed by a national conference on farm transfer education in Denver, Co in June 2009. Included in our project results are a training manual for new and beginning farmers, Module One: Farmland tenure and acquisition, and Module Two: Tenancy and landlord-tenant relations; three research reports including Farmland access and tenure for farm entrants; Farm succession challenges for exiting farm operators; and The impacts of tenure and succession arrangements on land use and the environment. Also produced was a manual of the proceedings of our national conference that attracted 175 individuals. The final product was the FarmLASTs Executive Summary and Recommendations. Each of the above products led to greater understanding and education on the aspects of farm transfer, farmland access for new and beginning farmers, farmland tenure for new farmers, and leading to a younger generation of farmers in the US. The results have been distributed nationally through 1) the national conference, 2) availability of information on the project's website, and through announcements, emails, and distributions of information at similar topic meetings. We will finish analysis of the project research, studies, and results from the conference and publish in the next year through peer reviewed articles. PARTICIPANTS: The involved collaborators for this project include land-grant university outreach educators, individuals from non-profit organizations, and individuals from public organizations. The public and non-profits focus on farmland acquisition for new and beginning farmers, keeping land in agriculture through preservation and those groups like Land Link that focus on connecting farmers with farmland seekers. The primary focus of the entire collaborative group is to aid farmland owners, farm seekers, beginning, and transitioning farmers to ease the transition process of setting up the new farming generation while enabling the senior generation to transition out of farming at their desire. The collaborators in this project are educators, consultant and students, learning from others and transferring this information to their educational audiences. TARGET AUDIENCES: The target audience is other educators/consultants/public officials similar to the involved collaborators. The focus is to provide our colleagues the information and education they need to more effectively work with their clientele on farmland access, succession, and tenure for new and beginning and transitioning farmers. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Not relevant to this project.
The project's goal was to examine farmland access, succession, and tenure issues across the US through education, research, and outreach. The project summary determined that U.S. agriculture faces significant challenges regarding how farms and ranches are acquired, held, transferred and managed for conservation. In the next twenty years about 70% of the nation's private farm and ranchland will change hands and up to 25% of farmers and ranchers will retire. Women, absentee, and non-farming landlords are increasing. Cost, competition and availability of land (and often housing) are major challenges for most beginning farmers. Studies show that over two-thirds of retiring farmers do not have identified successors and nearly 90% of farm owners neither had an exit strategy nor knew know how to develop one. The project's recommendations are: a) to increase the opportunity to access to farms and ranches; b) affordable options are needed to acquire land and housing; and c) need for secure farmland tenure, through ownership or lease. For there to be a vibrant agriculture in the US, we need to have a process to transfer assets from the older generation to the next generation of farmers. Barriers are often lack of capital and the lack of planning by those now owning the agricultural assets. Special attention should be paid to families without farming heirs, the junior generation, women inheritors and socially disadvantaged populations. The research and education efforts were: 1) Farmland access and tenure for farm entrants; 2) Farm succession challenges for exiting farm operators; and 3) The impacts of tenure and succession arrangements on land use and the environment. Farmland entrants have a significant problem in accessing land. Need land to farm but can't get land without money and can't make money if you can't farm. Farmland entrants need some assistance if they are to get started in farming. The research reports generally documented the general beliefs of farmland access problems for exiting farm operators. Many do not have a plan or identified a successor. This begs the question of who is going to operate the farm business or land in the future. Many are unsure about income during retirement years, leading to holding onto assets. The last study concluded that conservation practices did not coincide with farmland tenure. This was an unexpected result as it was believed that farmland ownership was correlated with conservation stewardship. As such, there is no research proof that land renters are less concerned about stewardship. The greatest outcome of this project was the comradely at our national conference which brought together the leaders in farmland access for new farmers and leading educators for farmland transition in the US and a few from Great Britain, Canada, and Australia. The 3 day conference highlighted challenges and different strategies being approached by different groups across the US. The benefit of this conference brought out the concern and the ability of individuals working in this area to adopt different methods to assist aspiring and established farmers.
- Steiner, C. et al. Agricultural Land Tenure Curriculum Module One: Farmland tenure and acquisition. Sept. 2009. http://www.uvm.edu/farmlasts/FarmLASTSAgLandTenureM1T1.pdf
- Steiner, C. et al. Agricultural Land Tenure Curriculum Module Module Two: Tenancy and landlord-tenant relations. Sept. 2009. http://www.uvm.edu/farmlasts/FarmLASTSAgLandTenureM2T1.pdf
- Parsons, R. and K Ruhf. Proceedings: Changing Lands, Changing Hands Conference. June 2009. http://www.uvm.edu/farmlasts/Page=conference.html
- Parsons, R., K Ruhf, G. Stevenson, J. Baker, M. Bell, E. Epley, J. Gilbert, C. Hinton, J. Keller. Research Report and Recommendations from the FarmLASTS Project. April 2010. http://www.uvm.edu/farmlasts/FarmLASTSResearchReport.pdf
Progress 09/01/08 to 08/31/09
OUTPUTS: FarmLAST is an integrated, multi-institutional project developed to conduct and evaluate research, outreach, and classroom education on: 1) farmland access and tenure for farm entrants; 2) farm succession challenges for exiting farm operators; and 3) the impacts of tenure and succession arrangements on land use and the environment. The future of U.S. agriculture depends on the ability of new generations to establish successful farms and ranches. Yet our established farmers continue to age, with more farm operators over age 65 than under age 35. Young farmers find it increasingly difficult to gain access to affordable and secure agricultural land to begin or take over a farm business. Farmland access and transfer are particularly important for small and medium-size farms and ranches that currently control over 80 percent of U.S agricultural land. Studies indicate that many operators over age 60 have not identified a successor. In the balance for the US farm sector are the quality of life and economic vitality in agriculturally dependent rural communities and the use, protection and enhancement of the nation's working lands. This applied research will employ participatory approaches involving university researchers, nonprofit and other professionals, and beginning and exiting farmers and ranchers. Primary objectives include developing research that leads to the development of 2 educational modules for university and college settings, hold a national conference that addresses various farmland access and transfer issues, and produce research reports on major topic areas. Based on the research findings, we will develop two educational modules to be piloted and evaluated in three university and community college settings. We will conduct outreach activities at regional and national levels, and produce an outreach manual and other written material. These activities will increase the capacity of regional and national beginning farmer and farm succession networks. Finally, the project will explore the public policy implications of these land access, tenure and stewardship issues. A national workshop, 'Changing Lands, Changing Hands' was held in Denver, Colorado, June, 2009 for 170 participants. The 2 day conference presented multiple speakers, 4 Plenary Sessions, and 20 breakout sessions on various topics. The workshop evaluations indicated a high level of satisfaction from the participants. Many indicated they had tools that they could take back home for use in their educational, program, and policy efforts The results of the research and of the workshop have been placed on-line at: http://www.uvm.edu/farmlasts/ For the coming year we are wrapping up the project, with research, evaluation, and education efforts wrapped up by Feb. 28, 2011. PARTICIPANTS: Ahern, Mary. Senior Economist, USDA Economic Research Service. Baker, John. Attorney. Administrator, of the Beginning Farmer Center at Iowa State University. Bell, Michael. Professor of Rural Sociology, University of Wisconsin/Madison. Bernstein, Robert. Associate, Land For Good, NH. Dixon, Lawrence. Consultant, MA. Gilbert, Jess. Professor of Rural Sociology, University of Wisconsin/Madison. Goeller, Dave. Agricultural Economist, University of Nebraska Extension. Heleba, Debra. Extension Associate, University of Vermont Extension. Hiatt, Annette. Senior Attorney at the Land Loss Prevention Project, NC. Horton, Billy. Ph.D. in Sociology, NH. Melone, Brett. Executive director, Agriculture and Land Based Training Association (ALBA), CA. Kohanowich, Robin. Sustainable farming coordinator, Central Carolina Community College, Pittsboro, NC. O'Brien, Denise. Coordinator, Women, Food and Agriculture Network, Iowa. Parsons, Robert Parsons. Professor, Farm Management, University of Vermont. Ruhf, Kathryn. Director, Land For Good, MA. Polston, Selena. Focus group facilitation trainer. Schwartz, Steve. Executive director, California Farm Link. Steiner, Charles. Assistant Professor, Agribusiness, University of Wisconsin/Platteville. Stevenson, G.W. Associate Director/Professor Emeritus, Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, University of Wisconsin/Madison. Taylor, Jennifer. Instructor, University of Wisconsin/Madison. Each brought unique expertise to the project and drew additional expertise from others involvled in the project. TARGET AUDIENCES: The target audience for this project are established farmers, aspiring farmers, non-farming landowners, educators, community leaders, and policymakers. All were present at our conference where evaluations indicated that more then 80% found something useful they could use in their own programs, work, and activities with farmland access, succession, and tenure activities. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.
The project conducted research in 3 primary topic areas: Access and Tenure, Succession, and Conservation and Stewardship. The research identified alternative methods of farmland tenure, focused on success problems, and found that conservation and stewardship was not a major reason for limited farmland access for young farmers. The findings were released after the 'Changing Lands, Changing Hands' conference. A second aspect of FarmLAST was the development of an educational module for new and beginning farmers, Agricultural Land Tenure: A Curriculum for Beginning Farmers and Farm Seekers, with 2 modules, 'Farmland Tenure and Acquisition' and 'Tenancy and Landlord-Tenant Relations.' The educational manual is available on-line at http://www.uvm.edu/farmlasts/. The conference brought together speakers from across the US to present a national viewpoint of FarmLAND access and acquisition challenges. The conference presentations, available at http://www.uvm.edu/farmlasts/, covered a wide variety of topics through the plenary speakers and the breakout sessions. While many different strategies were addressed, many problems remain. As some comments to the conference evaluation indicate, there remains the problem of getting older farmers to make succession plans and identify successors. Educators can do as much as they can but this problem remains a major obstacle for educators and aspiring farmers. Overall the project has helped to bring together many players in the farmland access field, educators, established farmers, aspiring farmers, nonfarming landlords, non-profits, and policymakers. Granted, there are great differences between a 1000 ac dryland wheat operation vs. a 5 ac CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) operation, both face the same challenges in acquiring and gaining access to enough farmland to make their operations financial viable. For policymakers interested in assuring the next generation of farmers, the conference, research material, and educational modules will provide a basis for interested parties to understand the complexity of the many issues and work toward possible solutions. So new farmers need assistance Our farmers are aging, we have a critical level of farmland in the hands of farmers over age 65, and a disproportionate amount of land will be transferred one way or another in the next 20 years. How we approach this challenge will influence the shape of US agriculture for the next century.
- Kohanowich, R., C. Steiner, J. Taylor, and K. Ruhf. 2009. 'Agricultural Land Tenure: A Curriculum for Beginning Farmers and Farm Seekers.' http://www.uvm.edu/farmlasts/Page=education.html