Last week American Farmland Trust’s New York State Director David Haight testified before the state’s Assembly Standing Committee on Agriculture about the land access challenges facing the next generation of farmers and what American Farmland Trust is doing to help. “We are working hard to help senior farmers transfer their farms to the next generation as well as assist beginning farmers in accessing farmland and launching successful careers in agriculture,” said Haight.
Recent grants from the USDA’s Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE), Farm Credit National Contributions Program, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation have enabled AFT to launch a “next generation” initiative with several components including: a professional development program to train agricultural professionals in the Northeast about farm transfer and farmland access options; a research project focused on barriers facing beginning farmers; and the creation of a network of organizations working to link farm seekers with farmland owners in the Hudson Valley.
Farmland Advisors, AFT’s two-year training program for agricultural professionals is offering 80 participants across New York and New England progressive learning and networking opportunities, including webinars, a regional conference, and peer-to-peer exchanges about farmland and farm transfer issues. “Despite a growing demand for land among beginning farmers, there are significant challenges in transitioning farms from one generation to the next, said Haight. “We believe that Farmland Advisors will help increase the number of farms that are successfully transferred to a new generation and increase the number of new and expanding farmers able to secure land.”
AFT is also exploring the establishment of a Greater Hudson Valley Farmlink Network to work with local partners to connect people seeking to buy or lease farmland with available landowners. This network would consist of a regional, web-based linking program with supporting match facilitators—people that can identify landowners who want to lease their land and help them develop sustainable relationships with compatible farmers–from local land trusts and other organizations. The Greater Hudson Valley Farmlink Network will make it easier for new farmers to find available land and keep HudsonValley farmland land in agricultural production.
New Generation of Farmers in the News
Growth Withers on Farms (Times Union, November 25, 2012)
Shift in Plan on the Farm (Times Union, December 8, 2012)
How to Keep Farms in Farming (Times Union, December 11, 2012)
State, federal officials seek ways to attract new farmers (Troy Record, December 17, 2012)
Anthony Mecca, Great Song Farm, Red Hook, NY