What will be needed to keep farmland in farming and farmers on the land as growing numbers of senior farmers begin to exit farming?
The Gaining Insights, Gaining Access project (2014-2016) looked at characteristics of New England’s farm population at both ends of the spectrum—those at or beyond retirement age, and those young or new to farming. Farmers age 65 and older own or manage nearly one-third of New England’s farms, and most are farming without a young farmer alongside them. Led by American Farmland Trust and Land For Good, this project shed light on what these trends mean for the future of New England agriculture.
Working with the Census of Agriculture data, we held focus groups across New England of older farmers with no identified successors to learn more about this large, influential farmer subset: what they’re farming and with whom; their vision of retirement; and what challenges they face for the future.
“It was a real wake-up call to see how few farmers age 65+ have a next generation working on the farm with them. How and to whom this land and farm infrastructure transfers will have an enormous impact on the future of farming in New England.”Cris Coffin, former Policy Director, Land For Good
We thank the 67 farmers who shared their stories and perspectives with us. We also thank our Advisory Team who helped shape the research and distill the findings of this project, and for the generous support of the Claneil Foundation, the John Merck Fund, and our supporters.