Farm link programs first appeared in the US in the early 1990’s. Three decades have seen such programs come and go with mixed outcomes. The need to connect farm seekers with exiting farmers and non-farming landowners is greater than ever.
Nationally, over fifty programs deliver “farm link” services of various description. Most manage property posting websites. Some facilitate transactions between parties. Many also provide educational activities and resources, and several include property assessment, succession advising, and beginning farmer training. As essential as these services are, farm link programs face many challenges.
What works? What could be more effective?
Land For Good is holding a national summit to find out. This national farm link clinic, to be held in April, 2019 in St. Louis, for established and emerging farm linking programs will look to improve their performance and effectiveness by exploring the range and depth of farm link programming, working together to solve problems, and sharing best practices. A second purpose is to share collected best practices and innovations with other current and future farm link programs, and other stakeholders.
At this two-day clinic, participants will begin with some big picture questions. What is a farm link program? What is a link or a match? What is success? Then, we’ll get into more detail. What are the best online tools to support farm link programs? Participants will share about data management, funding, outreach, branding, staffing, metrics and evaluation.
Each participant will commit to making at least one improvement to his or her program which LFG will track. LFG will also compile learnings and successful practices to share with other and aspiring farm link programs.
Funding provided by the Land Access Project, Phase 3 (LAP3) that is supported by a grant from the USDA/NIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (NIFA # 2018-70017-28531).