Transferring Farms and Improving Access to Farmland: A Training Program for Northeast Agricultural Service Providers

2012 Annual Report for ENE12-123

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2012: $126,955.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Greg Plotkin
American Farmland Trust
David Haight
American Farmland Trust

Transferring Farms and Improving Access to Farmland: A Training Program for Northeast Agricultural Service Providers


Current and prospective farmers face significant challenges in securing access to affordable farmland in New York and New England. Nearly 25% of the farmland in the seven-state region where this project focuses (New York plus the six New England states) is owned by farmers aged 65 and older; this land will likely transfer to new ownership in the next decade and is at the highest risk of being developed. Continued land loss and increased farm real estate values have made leased land an appealing interim and even longer-term alternative to buying land, yet connecting farmers with landowners willing to lease is often complicated and negotiating successful tenure agreements is complex.

To address this problem, American Farmland Trust proposes to launch a multifaceted, targeted training program to help 80 Extension staff and other agricultural service providers gain mid-level or advanced knowledge about farm transfer and farmland access options. Traditional agricultural service providers need more knowledge and skills to be able to advise farmers fully on potential land transfer strategies. These providers tend to have little interaction with non-farming landowners (NFLOs), who control a significant portion of farmland. While land trusts can be an important link to NFLOs, most land trust staff is not knowledgeable about farm transfer strategies, farmland leasing, or linking and matching resources that may facilitate land transfer.

The training program will consist of a series of progressive learning and networking opportunities, including webinars (to address basic knowledge needs for those who need it), a regional convocation in Year Two (that will build on the groundwork done in Year One), and advanced problem-solving and peer-to-peer exchange in the form of follow-up conference calls. The direct beneficiaries of this program will be: Extension personnel, other agricultural service providers (e.g., Farm Credit; state departments of agriculture; farm organizations), and land trust staff in New York and New England.

The program outcome is that, over the course of the project, 20 agricultural service providers and land trust staff will use the knowledge gained from this program to educate 100 farmers and/or non-farming landowners who own or manage 5,000 acres of farmland about farm transfer and farmland access tools.

Objectives/Performance Targets

During the program period, twenty agricultural service providers and land trust staff (beneficiaries) will use the knowledge gained from this program to educate 100 farmers and/or non-farming landowners who own or manage 5,000 acres of farmland about farm transfer and farmland access tools.


American Farmland Trust (AFT) and Land For Good (LFG) developed outreach publicity for Farmland Advisors: A Training Program about Farmland Access and Farm Transfers, that was shared with a large network of agricultural organizations, and posted on AFT’s New England and New York websites. This attracted an extremely well-qualified and diverse applicant pool of 95 hailing from each of the six New England states and throughout New York. Eighty beneficiaries were selected to participate in the program. The Farmland Advisors Steering Committee assisted with program outreach, in some cases directly contacting and encouraging individuals to apply. Currently, AFT and LFG are reviewing the initial survey that will gauge participant’s knowledge about farmland access, farm transfer, and non-farm landowner issues. The survey is based on curriculum topics that will be highlighted in the webinars and convocation, and survey responses will help to guide AFT, LFG, and the Farmland Advisors Steering Committee in developing the program content.
9/1/12: 500 Extension educators, agricultural service providers, land trust staff, and others learn about AFT’s Transferring Farms and Improving Access to Farmland program.

Over 700 New York and New England organizations (including Cooperative Extension offices, land trusts, NRCS and Soil and Water Conservation District offices, county and town offices, Farm Credit, and other agricultural organizations) received outreach publicity about the Farmland Advisors training program via email, organizational newsletters, and by direct contact. AFT received 93 applications for the program and accepted 80.

10/30/12: 80 individuals (the beneficiaries) commit to participation in the training program and receive an electronic survey that will assess their current level of knowledge with farmland transfer and access tools and strategies.

80 individuals from all six New England states and across New York State committed to the training program: 12 participants are Extension educators; 21 are land trust staff; 3 are industry staff; and, 44 are agricultural organization and government staff. The initial survey is in draft form and being reviewed internally, and will be available for participants to access and complete in early January 2013.

12/30/12: All beneficiaries receive written training materials and information about the webinar series, regional convocation and peer-to-peer learning opportunities.

Training program participants have received basic program topic information including dates for the webinar series in 2013: February 26, March 27, June 6. Written training materials and curriculum are being developed.

2/1/13 – 4/30/13: 50 beneficiaries participate in the webinar series to receive basic knowledge about farmland access and transfer tools and training materials.

5/30/13: 50 beneficiaries receive an electronic survey to gauge changes in their knowledge about farmland access and transfer tools from participation in webinars.

10/30/13: All beneficiaries participate in a two-day regional convocation where they receive more in-depth information and training about land listing, matching and linking, leasing, affordability mechanisms, land conservation options during the farm transfer process, team approaches to farm transfer strategies, and other tools.

11/1/13 – 2/28/13: All beneficiaries participate in one or multiple sub-region conference calls (New England or New York) to discuss the tools described at the regional convocation and how to best use them with landowners in their locality.

11/1/13 – 4/30/13: 20 beneficiaries receive support as they work to apply their knowledge in organizing workshops, farm meetings and other exchanges to provide basic training to 100 farmers and/or non-farming landowners about farmland access and/or transfer tools.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes


Cris Coffin

[email protected]
New England Director
American Farmland Trust
1 Short St. Suite 2
Northampton, MA 01060
Office Phone: 4135864593
Julia Freedgood

[email protected]
Managing Director, Farmland and Community Initiatives
American Farmland Trust
1200 18th St., NW Suite 800
Washington , DC 20036
Office Phone: 2023781205
David Haight

[email protected]
New York State Director
American Farmland Trust
112 Spring St. Suite 207
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Office Phone: 5185810078
Kathyrn Ruhf

[email protected]
Land for Good
29 Center St.
Keene, NH 03431
Office Phone: 4133239878