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Task forces making progress on Land Access Project

Task forces and technical teams of service providers and other stakeholders are busy at work on our Land Access Project (LAP2). Our teams of experts are tasked to develop, improve and better synchronize farm link programs in New England, develop innovative curriculum and provide advice and legal assistance to transitioning farm families through teams of service providers and attorneys. They will also explore innovative access and transfer methods, such as paths to ownership, affordable farmer housing, farmland investment models, and conservation tools to propose best practices and supportive public policies.

Listing & Linking Task Force

Kathy Ruhf, Senior Program Director, with Ben Waterman, Listing and Linking Task Force Leader.

Kathy Ruhf, Senior Program Director, introduces Ben Waterman, Listing and Linking Task Force Leader, as well as the other team leaders at the LAP2 kick off meeting in Leominster.

The Listing and Linking Task Force has been investigating successful programs and services in and beyond New England that connect farm seekers with landowners.  What makes for a successful program?  It is often beyond “matchmaking.” Seekers and landowners take advantage of a variety of complementary educational and technical support services.  The Task Force is taking a regional approach to presenting these various services. Members are developing a shared evaluation tool to assess the ways these dynamic programs impact users across the New England. In the coming months we will move on to make improvements to online farmland listing and linking technology.   

Tenure Innovations Task Force

Bob Wagner, Tenure Innovations Task Force Leader

Bob Wagner, Tenure Innovations Task Force Leader

The Tenure and Innovations Task Force kicked off its meetings in late March.  At 24 members strong, the task force is divided into 6 sub-committees organized around the major topic areas of interest to be explored by the group:

  • Conservation Easement Provisions;
  • Housing;
  • Urban Agriculture;
  • Paths to Ownership;
  • Shared Ownership and Tenancy Models; and
  • Non-traditional Owners, Investors and Lenders.

At each sub-committee’s meeting, participants identified priority issues and initiatives to research.  Now in the data collection phase, we’re assembling resource and reference materials on existing programs, techniques and models from around the country and organizing them in a Google File Share Drive.

Topics to be explored include providing succession housing on existing farms and understanding and determining the limits of the conservation easement instrument to advance land access issues. We’ll also look at new twists on farm incubators (move the incubator, not the farmer) and how to engage government entities and NGOs as non-traditional owners in the shared farm ownership space. We will explore how to make USDA programs work in urban settings and grapple with methods that enable farmers to move toward owning the land they farm.

Succession and Transfer Assistance Task Force

LAP2 Annette Higby - Farm Succession Task Force leader (1)

Annette Higby, Succession and Transfer Assistance Task Force Leader

The LAP2 Succession and Transfer Assistance Task Force has finalized a work plan that includes a number of activities designed to build the capacity of farm transfer service providers and to provide direct services to farmers in New England. We will offer a multi-session farm succession school for farm families working through a farm transfer.  We will also organize a 2-day Continuing Legal Education Seminar (CLE) on Generational Farm Transfer for attorneys and other farm service providers to be offered in 2017. We have convened a CLE Planning Committee composed of attorneys, land trust staff, and other providers to plan the event.

 

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.

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