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RI senior farmers get help to face succession planning challenges head-on

In Rhode Island, senior farmers (age 65 or older) operate nearly 30% of the state’s farms. The 21,700 acres and $310 million in land and agricultural infrastructure they own will transfer ownership in the next 10-20 years. A recent study shed light on what will be needed to facilitate the transition of these farms and farmland to a next generation of farmers.

At these upcoming Farm Succession Planning Workshops, RI farmers will get free help to understand the options, resources and steps to transferring a farm business or farmland.

  • February 13, 2017 – cancelled
    6:00 – 8:00pm
    East Farm
    East Farm Rd, Kingston, RI
  • March 20, 2017
    6:00 – 8:00pm
    Sandywoods Farm
    73 Muse Way, Tiverton, RI
    Register now

According to a recent study, RI farmers age 65 and older operate nearly 30% of the state’s farms. Of these 363 senior farmers, just 11% of them have someone under age 45 managing the farm with them, suggesting that a transfer of these farms to another farmer is far from certain. Farmers age 65 and older manage 21,700 acres and own a collective $310 million in land and agricultural infrastructure, much of which may transfer ownership in the next 10-20 years. (Gaining Insights, Gaining Access)

How and to whom this land and farm infrastructure transfers will have an enormous impact on the future of farming in RI.

It’s never too early – or too late – to plan for your future and the future of your farm,” says Tess Brown-Lavoie, RI Field Agent for Land For Good. “At no point is a farm’s future more at risk than during this transition,” says Tess of farmers without proper succession or transfer planning assistance.

The same study, conducted by American Farmland Trust and LFG, also found that RI had a 13% increase in young (under 45) farm operators since 2002, the only state in New England with a net growth in young farmers during that period. This suggests that there is an eager next generation of farmers wanting to get on the land.

Farmers, as well as farmland and forest landowners of any age, including junior generation are encouraged to attend this local succession planning workshop. Farmers will learn about tax and financial considerations and strategies, estate planning, lease arrangements, and preservation options, plus legal resources available. Local groups and professionals at the workshop will include: Conservation Law Foundation, Farm Credit East, Land For Good, and RI Land Trust Council.

These workshops are provided with support by the Local Agriculture and Seafood Act (LASA) Grants Program that has been directly benefiting and strengthening the local food system in RI since 2014. As a 2016 grant recipient, the Rhode Island Land Trust Council (RILTC), is partnering with Land for Good (LFG) on initiatives to help sustain agriculture in RI by addressing the challenges of land access and transfer. RILTC and LFG will co-host workshops for farmers planning for the succession of their farms to a next generation of farmers. LASA grants are made possible by the State of RI with matching funds from the Henry P. Kendall Foundation, the van Beuren Charitable Foundation, and the Rhode Island Foundation.

To register, call Land For Good at 603-357-1600 or go to landforgood.org/rsvp.

 

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