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Dairy succession efforts get boost from grant

photo credit: Taylor Hooper Photography, Benedikt Dairy (Goffstown, NH)

Help is available for dairy farmers! With support from the Keep Local Farms Fund of the New England Dairy Promotion Board, Land For Good is offering farm transfer planning and succession advising to commercial, cow milk dairy farms at reduced or no cost. For a limited time. Learn more about our consulting, or this special offer for dairy farmers (.pdf) then contact us to see if we can help ensure your farm’s legacy.

The dairy industry is a critical player in the region’s economic vitality, and dairy farms help maintain our iconic New England landscape. Not only are New England’s farmers aging, but the viability of the region’s dairy farms are under tremendous pressure.

photo credit: Taylor Hooper Photography, Benedikt Dairy (Goffstown, NH)

Their future will have a large impact on the future of rural landscapes and farm economies.

One bright spot is the growing demand for organic milk and local dairy products. But the linked challenges of farm succession and farmland access have to be addressed.

Dairy is still the highest-value agriculture sector in most New England states, despite a slow and steady decline. In the Northeast, the number of dairy farms has plummeted from over 100,000 in 1960 to fewer than 16,000 today, while organic milk production is one of the fastest growing segments of US organic agriculture.

Following grants from two organic food and farming supporters, the Clif Bar Family Foundation and Organic Valley’s Farms Advocating For Organics (FAFO) Fund, an additional grant focused on farm succession from the Keep Local Farms Fund will help meet these challenges. The Keep Local Farms Fund supports the long-term viability of New England’s dairy farms.

At no point is a farm’s future more at risk than during this transition,” says Andrew Marshall, LFG’s Education & Field Director. “Farmers need transfer planning information and support, especially when there is no identified successor. Whatever the situation, it’s never too early, or too late, to start planning for this major transition.”

Succession planning among all farmers is inadequately served. However, the farm succession challenge is compounded for dairy farms by the very nature of the enterprise. Dairy farmers have substantial equity tied up in land, equipment, infrastructure, and animals. Those are also daunting start-up costs for beginning dairy farmers. With fewer farm transfers happening within the same family, more farm transfers are taking place between unrelated parties. This trend represents opportunities for innovative approaches to farm transfer and succession.

 

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