This year’s National Farm Viability Conference, hosted by Oregon Tilth and Oregon State University’s Center for Small Farms and Community Food Systems, will feature an array of virtual programming throughout the month of October. Conference sessions will focus on strengthening farm sustainability, building more resilient local food systems and supporting the long term profitability of farming and agri-entrepreneurs from start-ups to generational businesses.
The conference is geared towards professionals in farm and food business planning, financial planning, agricultural financing, farmland conservation, agricultural market development, and food hub management.
Originally established in 2008, the conference is being hosted virtually for the first time and still features a comprehensive agenda. Land For Good (LFG) is proud to be among the many organizations attending the 2021 conference, representing 26 states and two countries.
This year the conference will collaborate with the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project’s 10th annual FIELD School which offers professional development for service providers who operate incubator farm and apprenticeship training programs for beginning farmers and ranchers. FIELD School sessions relevant to incubator farm and apprenticeship training programs will be organized within a track throughout the conference.
As a member of the Agricultural Viability Alliance Steering Committee, I’m excited to see this year’s conference reach a larger audience and receive direct support from SARE, among others,” shared Jim Hafner, LFG’s Executive Director. “The sessions on advocacy and the racial equity themes of this year’s conference are particularly timely and make this a must-attend conference for all farm viability professionals and advocacy organizations.” shared Jim Hafner, LFG’s Executive Director.
LFG is grateful to be able to again commit time and input to the Conference through the Continuity Committee, Proposal Review Committee, and through multiple sessions. LFG will share creative approaches to farmland access and tenure, farm linking, and ways farmers could approach and finance retirement. Find the full conference agenda. Here is a snapshot of LFG’s sessions:
Affording Farmland, October 18th.
This session dives into the mechanics behind accessing and affording farmland, from the most basic lease or purchase, to some of the more innovative methods farmers are using to secure their land tenure. We discuss capital purchases and financing, collaborative models of farming, and the benefits of a range of farmland access methods. We will also discuss the eight forms of capital to encourage participants to look beyond their financial means as potential resources in the search for accessible, affordable land. This workshop will be most useful for service providers who are not financial professionals themselves (like me), but whose work around land access navigates the “soft skills” end of farmland affordability. Presented by Will O’Meara, Connecticut Field Agent, Land For Good.
Farm Succession Scenarios, October 20th.
Discussion of land access options and different farm succession scenarios. Joing panelists Benneth Phelps, Director of Farmer Services, Dirt Capital Partners; Jack Hornickel, Esq., Staff Attorney, Pace Law School Food & Beverage Law Clinic; and Mike Ghia, Vermont Field Agent, Land For Good.
Let’s Talk Farm Linking, October 21st.
Jae Silverman of Land For Good and New England Farmland finder will be joined by Mallory O’Steen of Georgia Farmlink and Liya Schwartzman of California Farm Link to answer in-depth questions about Farm Linking services. The panelists will share extensive knowledge about their farm linking sites, focusing on common threads and differences between them, and addressing nitty-gritty technical issues as well as big picture programmatic design depending on the audience’s questions. Resources, including Land For Good’s Developing & Strengthening Farm Link Programs guide, will be shared and discussed with audience participants.
Ways Farmers (could) Approach and Finance Retirement, October 27th.
The farm succession process is often heavily influenced by the retirement approach of the older generation and their financial ability to consider retirement. When a farmer has not saved for retirement, the sale of farm assets at full market value becomes more important towards the farmer being able to fund retirement. This can limit the options towards making the farm transfer affordable to the new successor farmer. Whereas, farmers who have planned for retirement often have more options and often a longer window to transfer assets. But, like most Americans, farmers often don’t think about retirement until they are on the brink of retiring, and therefore miss opportunities to save long-term. This workshop will look at the ways that farmers approach and finance retirement, typical challenges that come up such as housing for multiple generations and health care, and discuss how to encourage farmers to think and plan for retirement as early as their 20’s and 30’s rather than much later in life. Presented by Mike Ghia, Vermont Field Agent, Land For Good.
In addition, the conference will include two sessions focused on federal policy that are part of national advocacy efforts between the The Agricultural Viability Alliance (AVA) and American Farmland Trust (AFT) to educate policy makers about the need for more effective and sustained funding programs to support. Jim Hafner, LFG’s Executive Director, co-chairs the Alliance Policy Committee with Todd Erling of Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corp.
Policy Plenary: Federal Support for Farm Viability & Business Technical Assistance, October 19th.
AVA and AFT will host a plenary at 11:00am ET (8:00am PT) that will be an opportunity to ask questions of, and hear the latest from, USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jennifer Lester Moffitt and leading congressional staff.
Federal Advocacy Efforts to Expand Support for 1:1 Business Technical Assistance, October 25th.
AVA will host a workshop discussion at 12:45pm ET (9:45am PT) on the next steps in advancing the request for dedicated business technical assistance funding from both recent relief packages and the upcoming Farm Bill. This will be a chance to help shape and advance the advocacy plan and share your thoughts (and learn from your peers) about what an effective national 1:1 business technical assistance program could look like.
Scholarships are also available to cover the registration fee for those who need one. Learn more at farmviabilityconference.com.