One of the biggest issues beginning farmers and ranchers often face when starting out is access to land they can afford. On the opposite side of things, retiring landowners who don’t have family or anyone they trust to pass their land on to are stuck trying to find someone to carry on the agricultural legacy they built.
Nebraska Extension's farm and ranch succession and transition program, along with Nebraska Women in Agriculture, has created a program that aims to create solutions to both of these issues.
The newly launched Nebraska Land Link works to connect new and beginning farmers and ranchers with limited land access and retiring landowners who are interested in transitioning their land to new owners.
The program aims to provide land access using lease agreements, lease-to-own or buy-sell arrangements, and other methods that benefit both parties.
Allan Vyhnalek, extension educator for farm and ranch succession and transition, manages Nebraska Land Link and said there are three main purposes for starting it in Nebraska.
First, the program aims to add land seekers to its system to potentially pair them with available farmland.
Secondly, not all landowners have successors. Nebraska Lank Link can help them find someone to keep their operation going as its own identifiable entity.
Third, research shows that rural Nebraska communities could lose one Main Street business for every eight farm units lost.
“If we can keep farming units going by replacing the retiring farmers with people willing to take over their operations, it’s a way to keep more farming and ranching units in place and a way to keep rural Nebraska strong,” Allan said.
Through the program’s website, interested applicants can watch educational videos that will guide both the landowner and the land seeker through the application process. These videos contain tips and a step-by-step explanation of what to expect, including that the process will take time but the wait will be worth it for the right owners and seekers to be paired.
“By using the answers applicants submit and offer in potential interviews, Nebraska Land Link can base their matches on the shared values, interests, and skills of both parties, so that a satisfying partnership can be forged over the course of the transition plan,” said Allan. “Throughout the whole process, we work to provide important educational information regarding transfers, communication, negotiations, goal setting, and more.”
Nebraska Land Link is open to operations of any size and is free for Nebraskans. Applications are being accepted from both land seekers and landowners. For more information on the program and for enrollment applications, visit farm.unl.edu/landlink.
For more resources on land transition and acquisition, visit cfra.org/farmers.