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USDA expands advisory committee on Beginning Farmers & Ranchers to focus on land tenure

LFG is very heartened to see the US Department of Agriculture’s new interest in land access and tenure. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack authorized expanding the scope of the USDA Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers (ACBFR) “to ensure that matters surrounding land tenure are captured in future recommendations from this committee.” To this end, a Subcommittee on Land Tenure was appointed to generate policy recommendations.

According to Kathy Ruhf, LFG Senior Program Director, this is the only subcommittee to be established under the ACBFR. Kathy served on the ACBFR for its first six years, 1999-2005. Kathy presented oral comments on behalf of LFG during the public comment period of the June 23, 2015 Subcommittee’s meeting in Iowa.

This is tremendous,” notes Kathy. “We’re excited to submit our written comments to the Subcommittee, and to be part of a process to address land access and transfer challenges nationally.”

After more than a decade of championing land access and transfer, we at LFG are thrilled to see these issues receive the attention they need, and to be a part of the current dialogue. Thanks to the ACBFR for their good work. We look forward to learning of the subcommittee’s discussion and recommendations.

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TO:  The ACBFR Subcommittee on Land Tenure
FROM:  Kathy Ruhf, Senior Program Director, Land For Good, Keene, NH
DATE:  June 19, 2015

As Subcommittee members know, and as has been documented, entering and exiting farmers face unprecedented challenges to acquire and pass on farms and farmland. Older farmers confront succession much too late if at all. Research shows the “succession effect” in which farmers make business decisions relatively early in the business life cycle based on their anticipated succession outcome. Transition must be addressed much sooner than is the culture or practice in agriculture. Significantly, most older farmers do not have an identified successor. This dramatic shift in generational transition demographics is both a huge obstacle and a land access opportunity, particularly because now most new farmers come from non-farm backgrounds.

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