Matching Farmers with Land: Overview

You’ve heard of farm transfers - when an older farmer passes his land and operation to his children, and the farm continues into the next generation.

But did you know that these transfers can happen between farmers who aren’t related? With some hard work on both sides, new and retiring generations can work together to build the future of small family farms.

Land matching provides an opportunity to connect the retiring and new generations of farmers. 

New Farmer/Rancher Benefits

Landowner Benefits

  • tax incentives and other financial benefits
  • ease transition into retirement
  • ensure the continuity of a farm’s operation and legacy
  • bring fresh energy and strong hands to work on the farm

Everybody Benefits

  • small family farms continue a proud American tradition
  • rural communities thrive with new farm families

Land matching is a great way for new farmers to get started, for retiring farmers to make sure their operation will continue long into the future, and for rural communities to stay strong.

The Center for Rural Affairs has a national matching program, Land Link.

Click here for a listing of matching programs available across the country and the world.


How Do Matching Programs Work?

All matching programs work a little differently, but the basics are the same:

  1. Sign up: The program compiles lists of new farmers and of landowners who want to link
  2. Match time! Usually, the new farmer must contact a landowner
  3. Talk about it: Both parties get to know each other and decide whether/how to link

Think before you link: Most application forms ask about participants’ assets, experience, and goals. Both landowners and beginners need to know what they want to get out of a linking relationship before they start trying to work it out with each other. Before you link, you should:

  • Know what you want and need
  • Be flexible where you can and firm on what you need

In this video, participants in a recent land match describe how they worked out a transfer.

Most programs focus on specific states or regions, so new farmers can find matches in the area where they want to farm. The Center for Rural Affairs’ matching program, Land Link, works with farmers nationwide.

Click here for a listing of matching programs available across the country and the world.

Looking for even more opportunities? Use your acquaintance network to build connections in the area you want to farm. Anyone - family, friends, business acquaintances, extension agents, real estate agents, postmasters, feed store staff, and more - can be your “in” to a farm transition opportunity. The more people you build relationships with and the more people know you’re looking for and seriously committed to a farming or ranching opportunity, the better your chance of being in the right place at the right time to access that opportunity.


America's Aging Farmers

Right now, the American farming population is aging, and new farmers aren’t getting in:

  • Half of all current farmers likely to retire in the next decade
  • Farmers over age 55 control more than half of U.S. farmland
  • Number of entry-level farmers has fallen by 30% since 1987
  • New farmers make up only 10 percent of farmers and ranchers

What happens when these aging farmers and ranchers are no longer working the land? Their lands concentrates in bigger and bigger and bigger operations, and we lose our family farms and ranches and our rural communities.

What makes it hard for beginners? Several factors make it difficult for new farmers and ranchers to get started and become profitable:

  • Limited access to land - land linking connects new farmers to land
  • High cost of land - land matching allows for “sweetheart deals” that can bring land purchase within reach for beginners through limited down payments, low interest rates, extended land contract periods, trading labor for ownership, and more
  • High cost of production technologies - linking allows for transfer of equipment along with land
  • Small scale of operations unsuited to conventional production systems and markets - land linking beginners who begin on a small operation can access high value markets

Land matching lets our rural communities have a brighter future, by letting young farmers work the land.  

Land matching keeps our family farms strong. It keeps our rural communities vibrant. It ensures that the American independent farmer is here to stay.