In Service to Beginning Farmer/Rancher Land Access: An Expanded and Independent Community of Practice for Managers of Land Access Policy Incentives

Progress report for ENC22-218

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2022: $89,958.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2025
Grant Recipient: Indiana University
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Julia Valliant
Indiana University
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Project Information


For over two decades, the North Central Region has been a national leader in forming public policies to invest in beginning farmer/rancher (BFR) land access and incentivize landowners to choose a BFR as the next operator or owner of their farm or ranch. Each of these public policies is passed by a legislature and then generally interpreted and implemented by a lone manager working in rather isolated conditions. The target audience for this PDP will be these professional public servants who manage Land Access Policy Incentive (LAPI) programs out of state departments of agriculture or community development, finance authorities, or other public service providers. The purpose of the PDP is to reinforce a young, established Community of Practice made up of LAPI managers, and to augment the members' capacity by: (1) convening them for two in-person conferences and trainings, (2) extending their funding for facilitated virtual gatherings by one year, and (3) supporting them in transitioning to becoming a self-governing Community of Practice through trainings. Service to this network will lead to these outcomes: (1) learning leading to action: LAPI managers will bring innovations and improvements learned from their peers home to their states, strengthening their service to farmer/ranchers and landowners; (2) smoother new policy liftoff as more states introduce LAPIs; and (3) sustained motivation of LAPI leaders who become able to support one another and contribute to the land access movement as coordinated peers.

Project Objectives:

Products to be developed

The routine products the PDP develops will include a series of eight virtual meetings of the CoP and their agendas, meeting notes, and recordings. Our LAPI project website, presently in development, will provide a public version of this content. Program personnel will continue to translate particular aspects of CoP content into online and print summaries, as we have already with our online StoryMap of LAPI programs and one-page summary of BFTCs nationwide.

When the CoP meets in person, these gatherings will involve presentations to the NCOSAFP conferences by members of the CoP, conference content tailored to the CoP, and a CoP training. Programming produced will include:

  • 2023: To continue to develop CoP members’ familiarity with the broader land access movement, we will provide an interactive seminar about the national land access and transfer curricula our PDP partners at American Farmland Trust have led since 2017. These hands-on tools focus on paths to land access and supporting soft skills needed during land transfer.
  • 2024: A training about the process of becoming self-governing. We will focus year two of the PDP on transitioning the CoP into a self-sustaining model, and will prepare conference, meeting, and training content to serve this objective.

A final set of outputs will reflect the products of the CoP network. These outputs will involve the members’ interactions and dialogue with one another, and especially the plans that they make to become self-governing as a team will become a type of product that the investment of the PDP will create.

We expect the entire CoP to take part in the virtual meetings and for nearly all of them to attend the in-person opportunities. At present the CoP has 11 members, and will add two this year whose states have a new LAPI (Washington) or are on the verge of one (Ohio). The CoP will continue to grow as more states continue to add LAPIs and USDA appoints more CRP-TIP representatives.


Priority participants: CoP members

  • State LAPIs:
    • Easement incentives: Kate Delavan (WA), Jimmy Kroon (DE), Steve McHenry (MD), Andrea Reiner (PA)
    • BFTCs: Tim Back (KY), Karla Bahm (NE), Amalie Lipstreu (OH), Matt McDevitt (MN), Tammy Nebola (IA), Sarah Spishock (PA), Dan Waldvogle (CO/NM/WY)
  • USDA: Sarah Campbell and Jenna Segal and their appointees

Lastly, we will recruit two of our LAPI project’s advisors to attend the year 1 NCOSAFP conference and attached CoP training. Providing stipends for advisors to join the CoP will expand and deepen these advisors’ knowledge of LAPI programs and integration of this knowledge into their service provision to farmers.

  • NCR advisors: Jessica Groskopf (NE), Shoshanah Inwood (OH), Jan Joannides (MN), Stu Lourey (MN), Brad Lubben (NE), Katie Nelson (IN)
  • National advisors: Marcus Bernard (KY), Naveen Dixit (MD), David Howard (USA), Antonio Roman-Alcala (CA)


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Tammy Nebola - Technical Advisor
  • Jenny Heck - Technical Advisor
  • Allison Roe - Technical Advisor
  • Tim Back - Technical Advisor


Educational approach:
  1. Create a national Community of Practice made up of the public officials who manage state and federal Land Access Policy Incentives.
  2. Convene the Community of Practice for regular virtual and in-person gatherings to establish a coordinated peer network. The purpose of the network is to add value to the members' work in their home states facilitating sale and lease agreements between young, beginning, and historically underserved farmers and ranchers and small- and mid-sized landowners.
  3. Facilitate conversations among the Community of Practice to build a plan to sustain the network long term.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Community of Practice (CoP) convenings

To build a coordinated peer network of LAPI managers nationwide.


Quarterly virtual meetings of the CoP and one annual in-person gathering.

Outcomes and impacts:

We have assessed the CoP members' baseline measures and will be able to describe outcomes in our final PDP report.

Educational & Outreach Activities

4 Online trainings
1 Webinars / talks / presentations
1 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

2 Researchers
4 Nonprofit
19 Agency

Learning Outcomes

25 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
25 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

1 Grant received that built upon this project
25 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:
  • We have assessed baseline levels and will be able to report on outcomes in our final report.
  • We convened and facilitated five regular gatherings of the LAPI Community of Practice. These events attracted the participation a total of 25 unique individuals who run their states' LAPI programs. Nearly all of these 25 were regular attendees of every event.
  • We delivered two presentations to the National Council of State Agricultural Finance Programs, together with members of the Community of Practice.
25 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
1,500 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Success stories:

One agricultural professional who runs her state's LAPI program volunteered her appreciation for the work of the LAPI Community of Practice"

"Seeing the results of what we all do is not something most of us get, it is so rewarding and important to see things full circle. I appreciate all the work you have done with the LAPI group and bringing together the CoP.  There is so much value in sharing the successes and failures with those who are doing the same work, and the CoP group provides those valuable resources."

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.