Who is going to get the farm?

Today, a vast amount of land in the U.S. is owned by those over 65 years old. Some have made their wishes clear for the future of their property. Others are courting family upheaval by not planning in concrete ways.

An age old problem, evident in literature from the Bible to King Lear to Willa Cather, in land transition is the hard questions: Who really owns the land? And, what is the role of the steward of a property? Can "fair" become "unfair" to one's children?

Center for Rural Affairs and Practical Farmers of Iowa would like to help jumpstart this conversation in farm families and rural communities in Nebraska and Iowa. The two organizations are presenting “Map of My Kingdom” in 10 communities with free admission.

“Map of My Kingdom” is a play on farmland transfer by Mary Swander, commissioned by Practical Farmers of Iowa. The play tackles the critical issue of land transition. In the drama, a lawyer and mediator share stories of how farmers and landowners approach land successions.

Land is the thread that binds all of the stories together. “Map of my Kingdom” will resonate with those who have been through or are working through challenging land transfer issues that include division of the land among siblings, to selling out to a neighbor, to attempts to preserve the land's integrity against urban sprawl.

This drama will inspire the hesitant and the fearful to start the conversation that cannot wait. We hope that it will prompt families to start a conversation. Each of the performances will be followed by an open discussion with the audience—in Nebraska, the discussion will be led by a Dave Goeller, retired deputy director North Central Risk management center at University of Nebraska-Lincoln and resource provider at Nebraska Rural Response Hotline; in Iowa, the discussion will be led by state poet laureate and playwright Mary Swander. (The Fairfield, Iowa, discussion will feature Sally Worley, Practical Farmers of Iowa executive director.)

Join us as we tackle these issues that can have lasting effects on entire rural communities.

Nebraska performances are set in Ord on Feb. 28, Brownville on March 2, West Point on May 7, and Norfolk on May 9. Iowa performances, co-hosted by the Practical Farmers of Iowa, are scheduled in Fairfield on March 1, Iowa City on March 8, Jefferson on March 9, Ames on March 10, Milford on April 11, and Waterloo on April 13. Click on each event for details.