Farm Seeker Needs Versus Farm Owner Offers: A Comparison and Analysis in the U.S. Midwest and Plains

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2016: $199,566.00
Projected End Date: 11/30/2019
Grant Recipient: Indiana University
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:
Dr. James Farmer
Indiana University
Dr. Julia Valliant
Indiana University
Land access for new farmers and ranchers includes transfers from owners without family successors. We compare how farm seekers’ needs align with the offerings of farm owners whose farm assets may transfer out of family in the 12-state North Central Region as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In Phase 1, managers of farm link services, which connect farm owners without a successor in their family to farm seekers, estimated the patterns demonstrated by their program’s seeker and owner participants through a question­naire. In Phase 2, managers of these and select other agricultural and rural programs circulated to their networks an online survey whose respondents included 178 farm seekers and 183 farm owners whose assets may transfer out of family. Findings denote similarities and barriers between the two groups. The biggest difference was that few owners offered an on-farm residence, which was a top need of seekers. In terms of similarities, the survey found no statistical differences in the groups’ respective locations on a rural-urban continuum, nor in land parcel sizes sought and offered. Half of farm link service providers concurred, observing a match between seeker and owner land needs. However, the other half of service providers reported wide differences, observing two patterns. First, incoming farmers preparing for commodity row crop, hay and fodder, and beef production are well-matched by owners with like type farms to offer, although new entrants often seek bigger parcels than owners offer. Second, seekers prepar­ing for specialty crop, dairy, and hog or poultry (outdoor and indoor) production far exceed the number of owners who offer the infrastructure and scale for these production systems, particularly for parcels under 40 acres. Results suggest opportuni­ties for research and intervention to target barriers and areas of alignment between owner and seeker needs, especially for affordable on-farm housing for new farm operators.
Peer-reviewed Journal Article
Julia Valliant, Indiana University
Kathryn Ruhf, Land For Good
Stephanie Dickinson, Indiana University
Yijia Zhang, Indiana University
Lilian Golzarri-Arroyo, Indiana University
James Farmer, Indiana University
Target audiences:
Farmers/Ranchers; Educators; Researchers
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.