There is a huge shift going on in today’s American countryside. People who have worked the land, grown crops, and raised livestock for decades are looking around and wondering what will happen with their farm when they can no longer keep pace with the daily tasks of farming.
Some landowners foresee the day they won’t be able to continue and start looking for ways to transition their land to the next generation. Other landowners do not have a plan in place when the time comes (whether consciously or due to unforeseen illness/death/financial difficulty) and find themselves scrambling for the best possible outcome. Regardless of the circumstances and timeline, the emotional attachment one has to their land makes transitioning it to new hands a momentous event.
There is a competition between large agribusiness and beginning farmers when this land hits the market and most start-ups cannot afford to buy large or well-maintained tracts of land outright. This struggle gives the transitioning process one more big hurdle.
Luckily, there is a movement of people realizing these struggles exist and making steps to ease the process of land transition from one generation to the next. These groups see that long-term land access (or “tenure”) is keeping many enthusiastic, intelligent, and competent people from following their farming dreams. In response to these challenges, the Land Stewardship Project (LSP) and Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) have put together a fantastic Farm Transitions Toolkit to help both land owners and beginning farmers find new ways to work together toward land tenure for the next generation and long-term conservation of farmland. This compilation of stories and resources looks into new ways of structuring purchases, developing long-term agreements, and ways for everyone to get out of the situation what they need. I highly recommend this Toolkit to anyone who owns land or is looking for land.
Caleb and I are proud to be one of the many stories collected for this resource. Our unusual farm ownership model could someday inspire others to seek new ways to follow their hearts while being financially sound when paired with all of these other stories and pathways. The toolkit has video components on YouTube, stories of transitions, and resources developed to make transitions successful.
Learn more about the project, download the Toolkit (or order a paper copy), and read about why this issue is important to all of rural America here:
Or watch the video about our story to farm ownership here: