Alternate Roots—Land Acquisition and Tenure Options

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2021: $89,656.00
Projected End Date: 09/29/2024
Grant Recipient: Kansas Rural Center
Region: North Central
State: Kansas
Project Coordinator:
Tom Buller
Kansas Rural Center


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: extension, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, Farm Transition
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities

    Proposal abstract:

    The Kansas Rural Center (KRC) was a major participant with Indiana University in 2016 in a SARE project “Transitioning farm and ranch land from one family to another: Evaluating new strategies for profitable transfers and sustainable agriculture partnerships.” This project responds to needs uncovered then.

    More than 40% of American farmland and ranchland will change hands over the next 15 years (American Farmland Trust, 2018). This massive transfer of farm real estate offers one of the greatest threats to farmland—or one of the best opportunities for new farmers looking for land. Thus the Kansas Rural Center, in partnership with JCCC Professor of Sustainable Agriculture, Stu Shafer, proposes expanding a curriculum of land transfer and tenure practices developed by American Farmland Trust, “Farmland for the Next Generation,” a comprehensive 8-part land access trainer curriculum. The AFT skills-based approach addresses three paths to land access: leasing, purchasing, and receiving land through inheritance or gift. KRC will build upon this to develop an “alternative” land transfer/ownership/tenure curriculum that will include cooperatives, land trusts, farm commons, conservation easements, production cooperatives, as well as other land-use models for sustainable farm systems.

    Year I KRC will facilitate curriculum modification with an educational team of six sub-contractors serving farmer/ranchers in Kansas, including socially disadvantaged. Year II The KRC educational advisory team will disseminate the curriculum in four regional professional development sessions and through the annual KRC Conference, YouTube and KRC website to teach extension agents, agriculture educators, and additional farm service agencies more methods to access land.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project has varied targeted audiences totaling at least 300 in-person and 100s more virtually who will receive professional development curriculum and instruction, and educational materials on alternative land transfer/land tenure or ownership. (Baseline attendance numbers from KRC’s 2020 town halls held throughout the state and in 2021 held virtually and KRC face to face 2019 Annual Conference.) Professional development audiences will include:

    • Top-priority farmer/rancher advisors/trainers— Extension leaders/educators, organizational leaders providing farm services, especially those supporting sustainable farming/ranching (examples of interested organizations are listed in Year I activities number 5 above), farm lenders, accountants, financial advisors, attorneys, appraisers, etc.
    • Regional, State, and National policymakers, and investors supporting farm transfers/tenure

    The products of professional development activities will be best practices materials for alternative land transfer and tenure/ownership to be developed by the curriculum team and presented in four regional professional development one-day gatherings, submitted for publication and broader dissemination; delivered through KRC conference presentations and, recorded sessions archived and accessible on the KRC website and YouTube; as wells broadcast stories of successful transitions/tenure and new owners via social media.  

    Product Outputs will include:

    • Best practice instructional methods & curriculum for alternative land transfer/land ownership/tenure with sustainable farming examples will be created by educational advisory team;
    • 4 professional development sessions taught by members of the educational advisory team and spread regionally throughout Kansas to agricultural professionals serving students, other ag professionals, and farmer/ranchers;
    • Practical knowledge for policy and decision-makers will be created and included in professional development materials, emphasizing sustainable farm successes with alternative land access;
    • Multiple presentations by the educational advisory team will be offered on land transfer at the KRC Annual Conference during topical breakout sessions, as well as a keynote overview of land transfer options;
    • All professional development will be recorded and uploaded to the KRC website & YouTube providing ongoing access to landowner/transfer information, and skills for programs.
    • All alternative farm transfer and alternative land tenure curriculum is encouraged to be immediately applied in agricultural business and agricultural education and will be tracked by KRC long-term for at least three years; 
    • More sustainable agricultural operations continue, or begin, on farms transitioned between unrelated parties, also tracked by KRC long-term;
    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.