It is estimated as many as 300 Vermont farms may change hands over the next five years as farmers scale back and transition from farming. At the same time, affordable access to farmland is a serious barrier for new farmers or those seeking to grow and expand their business. And, farmland that could be accessed at any price is increasingly in short supply. Nearly 41,000 acres of Vermont’s agricultural land, including 11,000 acres of prime agricultural land, was converted to developed land between 1982 and 2007. 41,000 acres lost in a small state like Vermont ranks it 23rd in the nation for agricultural land conversion. (Farmland Information Center)
Supporting farm transfer and prioritizing creative approaches to farmland ownership and access will create farming opportunities for more people, including historically marginalized communities within and outside Vermont, who are disproportionately underrepresented in farmland ownership.
Vermont will have a substantial transfer of agricultural land, according to the Vermont Agriculture & Food System Strategic Plan 2021-2030 released earlier this year by Vermont Farm to Plate (F2P). The plan addresses these important questions, among many: How much farmland is available in Vermont? What kinds of resources are needed to produce food in Vermont? How can Vermont increase its capacity for processing local food? How can we reduce food insecurity in Vermont? What’s at stake?
The plan was grounded in over fifty issues and product briefs that were developed by experts in the Vermont food system. The four-page briefs outline the current situation and trends, challenges, opportunities and make recommendations for priority strategies and funding needs. Land For Good contributed to the following briefs:
- Alternative Land Ownership and Access Models
- Farmland Conservation
- Racial Equity in the Vermont Food System
The need for an aligned and coordinated network of service providers and diverse set of services is highlighted in the Business and Technical Assistance brief. Land For Good’s services to support farmland access, farm transfer, and succession planning and implementation are among those business technical assistance services. For example, Land For Good has long been among the network of organizations providing farm business advising under the Vermont Farm and Forest Viability Program. Through the Viability Program’s farm business succession work, Land For Good provides one-on-one advising to Vermont farmers — including farmers without identified successors and the junior generation on the farm — to help them prepare for, plan, and navigate the farm transfer process.
Land For Good is working with Vermont farmers and farmland owners and other service providers to create more farming opportunities, help farm seekers gain access and secure tenure toland their farm business, and guiding exiting farmers through the farm transfer and succession planning process.
Land For Good’s Vermont Field Agent, Mike Ghia, is on the ground working with farmers on these issues across the state. Adding his first-hand experience, Mike participated at many stages of the Strategic Plan. Mike is an active member of the Farmland Access and Stewardship Working Group, and the chair of the Farmland Access and Accessibility Task Force of F2P. The Farmland Investors Report (2016) was completed with partial funding from F2P and under the auspices of the Task Force. Under Land For Good’s contract with the Vermont Farm and Forest Viability Program, Mike works in close collaboration with many other state partner organizations on the issues of farm viability.
If you need assistance to access farmland, secure land tenure, or transfer your farm business, complete this form to contact Mike Ghia, Land For Good’s Vermont Field Agent. Mike can provide individualized support to help you clarify your farm business goals, start a farm succession plan, strategize if you don’t have an identified successor, or make referrals.