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Track E: Professional and Network Development

Professional and Network Development helped strengthen programs, services and policies, and build professional networks in each state, our region and nationally.

This track emphasized needs for service provider training and support around land access as well as farm/ranch succession. Several examples of professional training were shared, such as for attorneys and transition coordinators. Presenters and participants learned about succession issues from an international perspective, and educational curricula for farm seekers and senior farmers. Practitioners brainstormed around farm link programs across the country.

1E Planning for Land Access (Discussion)
Discussants focused on the roles and importance of attorneys’ work with seekers, landowners and retiring producers, including how to engage more attorneys, build skills and strengthen networks.

2E Land Access and Transfer Curricula (Presentation)
Presenters shared their review of land access curricula and farmer training around land tenure, and their experiences developing curricula. What works for what audiences? What’s missing?

3E International Perspectives on Farm and Ranch (Presentation)
Two experts shared their research and observations of farm transfer and land tenure in other countries and cultures, with examples and application to the U.S.

4E Farm Link Programs (Roundtable)
What are linking programs? Do they work, and how do we know? A clinic focused on program design, challenges, metrics, sustainability and effectiveness for those in the linking trenches and those who hope to be.

5E Land Trusts, Land Access and Land Protection (Discussion)
What are the current and best strategies to engage and strengthen land trusts in agricultural land protection, access and transfer? This session explored successful, emerging and potential land trust
community roles, contributions and connections.

The following bullet lists feature many of the programs and practices shared by presenters and attendees. It is not comprehensive and does not intend to suggest that these are the only or “best” programs and practices. The bullets are organized by broad topic.

Innovative and successful and programs and practices:

Professional networks, training and support

  • Western NC Farm Link did national survey of farm link programs; new list serv of link programs–North American Farm Link Network; contact info@wncfarmlink.org.
  • Farm Commons for landowners’ (and professionals’) legal questions.
  • Farm transitions discussion group for farmers and farmland owners; service providers welcome too.
  • Continuing Legal Education programming to encourage, educate and network attorneys on land access and succession planning; see Land For Good.
  • Certified Farm Succession Coordinator; training and certification provided by International Farm Transition Network.
  • Trainings for land trusts; get groups of land trusts together to consider access and affordability—beyond just protection [Equity Trust].

Curriculum

  • Action-oriented curricula; learning by doing and peer-to-peer. See, for example, Land For Good’s Farm Succession School and American Farmland Trust’s Land Access Trainer
  • Succession planning should be an integral part of a farm/ranch business plan; place succession planning on a par with cropping, marketing, capital improvements.
  • “Real time” worksheets and assignments in succession curricula; don’t count on “homework.”
  • Combine information, peer support and individual coaching for maximum impact.

Role of land trusts

  • National Young Farmers Coalition resources for land trusts working on farmland.
  • Vermont Land Trust’s Farmland Access Program buys farms at risk of development and sells them at an affordable price along with placing a conservation easement paid for with public and/or private funds.
  • With Maine Farmland Trust’s Buy/Protect/Sell tool—MFT purchases a farm, protects it with an easement and resells it in whole or in parts to incoming farmer(s).
  • Land trusts working with farmers: See for example Nine Case Studies.
  • Maine Farms Realty is a subsidiary to Maine Farmland Trust, aimed to provide professional real estate services to MFT and the Maine farm community.

Public policy suggestions:

  • Change treatment of capital gains in IRS (and relevant states) code on agricultural properties to encourage lifetime transfers.
  • Advocating for state matching funds for ALE (Rogue Corps, OR).
  • Transferable tax credits
  • Advocate for funding for farm link programs in the Farm Bill.

More info

Learn more about the Changing Lands, Changing Hands national conference and access the conference program booklet. The program booklet includes session descriptions, and presenter bios and contact information.

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