We are closing in on the first year of LFG’s Land Access Project, Phase II (LAP2). This broad collaboration across the six New England states is increasing access to farmland for our region’s beginning and established farmers. Since the December 2015 kick-off attended by more than 50 people, project collaborators have been working on a range of fronts with landowners, transitioning farm families, communities, policymakers and a wide range of service providers.
Highlights of year-one accomplishments include:
- Over 800 beginning farmers, transitioning farmers, landowners and service providers participated in over 45 LAP-partner workshops and similar events (since September 2015)
- Over 40 collaborators are working in task forces, committees and state networks
- Coordination on land access has gained traction around New England. This important focus of LAP2 is guided by the priorities state networks identified at the kick-off convening. Many of these are also closely linked to our state policy efforts and ongoing coordination with state farm, farmland and food system networks. For example:
- In Rhode Island, the Department of Environmental Management is finalizing regulations for its innovative Farmland Acquisition Program, offering a new tool to protect farmland and help beginning farmers gain access to land.
- In Connecticut, statutory changes enacted this spring now allow the state’s Farm Viability grants to support programing around farm succession and land access and expanded the activities supported through the state’s FarmLink program.
- This fall, Vermont is planning a “deep dive” into the topic of farmland investing at its annual Farm to Plate gathering, and Maine Farmland Trust and partners are hosting a second statewide land access conference.
- A New Hampshire commission is developing a statewide land conservation plan that will focus in part on farmland protection and land access, and the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture is moving forward on a recommendation from the state Food Plan to create a formal state Farmland Action Plan.
- Task Force progress includes:
- Research on land tenure innovation topics like shared tenure, paths to ownership, improvements to ag easements, and urban land;
- Design of a two-day professional training for attorneys and other farm succession advisors;
- Registration is open for a 3-day Farm Succession School to be held in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont this winter (or see flyer for details);
- A survey of land seeker and land owner users across five New England farm link programs; and,
- An upcoming convening focused on affordable farmer housing.
- Read more about LAP Task Force progress
The Land Access Project is funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture through its Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, Grant # 2015-04544. The project is directed by Land For Good in partnership with over 40 collaborating organizations, agencies and individual experts in six New England states.