Beginning farmers: the quest to find land

You’ve decided that farming is for you, and the next step is to find your own land.

As a new farmer, you want to identify when landowners are first thinking about a change. You want to know when a landowner’s children decide not to come home, or when a health condition forces a change in farming activity. You need to learn this at the earliest possible stage, so you can introduce yourself as a solution

Most land transfers happen out of public view, between people who have some connection. Your network - family, business and education contacts know people who know people. You can tell your contacts what you’re looking for. Those who know you and your commitment will be pleased to help with your success.

Beginners won’t be able to outbid large, established landowners, but you can offer more than money. You can offer a chance to keep the farm in operation, to continue the legacy. You can keep the farmstead alive, instead of plowed over, so family can continue to visit.

You also can bring a new family to the community, to invigorate the church, school and town businesses. And you can partner with the senior landowner to build the business to greater success together as you, perhaps, bring livestock back to the farm or introduce new enterprises to the existing operation.

Aside from networks, other resources can help. Check out our website, http://www.cfra.org/resources/beginning_farmer, for land matching programs and links to other helpful organizations.

Wyatt Fraas, Center for Rural Affairs’ Farm and Community Assistant Director, has spent 20 years advising landowners and beginning farmers on farm asset and business transfer.