Build a Legacy with Land Link

Almost every day the Center for Rural Affairs gets inquiries from young, inspired men and women who want to start farming. They come from vastly different backgrounds and locations, each looking for an entry into agriculture.

For some this means working into a retiring farmer’s operation, while others want to rent a few acres so they can expand their market garden and quit their day job. We also get inquires from landowners in their later years, looking for a way to continue the legacy of their farm or ranch or ensure their land is farmed in a sustainable, responsible way.

Recognizing the enormous potential for collaboration between beginners and retiring farmers, the Center created Land Link, a program designed to match beginning farmers with those retiring, in the early 1990s. The linking process begins when a beginning or retiring farmer contacts the Center.

Staff sends the interested party an application, where beginners and landowners define their goals and the resources they want to contribute to a partnership. Information on landowners is compiled in a document and shared with beginners. Beginners are then able to contact landowners and begin the linking process.

Land Link was duplicated by nonprofits around the country, and today 33 linking programs are up and running. Linking programs joined 200 beginners with existing farmers, and no doubt countless others have used our materials on making successful partnerships to create their own land links.

Over the years public awareness of the Center’s Land Link program decreased, and landowner interest waned. Beginner participation in the program is strong, and there are often 10 times more beginners than landowners on the Land Link list!

We recently received a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Grant from the US Department of Agriculture to enhance our Land Link work, and we’d love your input on how we can make the most of Lank Link.

We’d like to hear from beginners, landowners interested in linking, and anyone with input to share. If you’re a beginning farmer or have resources (land, equipment, expertise) to share with a beginner and want to be part of Land Link, contact Virginia Wolking at the Center for Rural Affairs, or 402.687.2103 x 1017.