Sustaining Northeast Farms for Future Generations

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2004: $148,500.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $109,550.00
Region: Northeast
State: Pennsylvania
Project Leader:
Marion Bowlan
Pennsylvania Farm Link

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: barley, corn, oats, potatoes, soybeans, wheat, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Fruits: melons, apples, apricots, berries (other), cherries, grapes, peaches, pears, plums, quinces, berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), lentils, onions, parsnips, peas (culinary), peppers, rutabagas, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips, brussel sprouts
  • Additional Plants: tobacco, herbs, native plants, ornamentals, trees
  • Animals: bees, bovine, poultry, goats, rabbits, swine, sheep, fish, ratite
  • Animal Products: dairy
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Animal Production: feed/forage
  • Education and Training: decision support system, display, extension, focus group, participatory research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
  • Production Systems: holistic management
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities

    Proposal abstract:

    “Sustaining Northeast Farms for Future Generations” is a three-year collaborative project that will educate 400 agriculture producers on farm succession planning issues and resource conservation policies so that future generations of farmers will operate profitably and protect our natural resources. From 1982 to 1997 the number of new farmers has dropped a precipitous 58%, underscoring the challenges we face in future food and fiber production in the Northeast.

    One of the most critical stages in the development of any family business is the transfer of its ownership and control to the next generation. This project will survey farmers to determine their transfer planning needs; catalog existing public and private resource conservation policy, develop educational programs and materials that integrate farm succession planning and resource conservation policies, conduct focus groups of surveyed farmers to determine optimal outreach strategies, provide outreach and educational activities to meet farmer-identified needs; provide information to policy makers regarding farm entry/transfer and resource conservation needs; and evaluate program effectiveness.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Of the 400 farmers receiving information on farm succession planning and land-use conservation policies, 150 will take at least two-three action steps to transition their farm to the next generation and/or protect their land resources within three years.

    To encourage diversified and profitable farming, we will reach out to all types of entering and exiting farmers regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, economic status, or lack of prior experience. Healthy food production techniques and natural resources protection will serve as cornerstones of programming efforts. Community involvement and farmer satisfaction will be encouraged by providing farmers with information/assistance that will allow them to negotiate a good fit between retiring/successor endowments, farm and family goals, and optimum entry/transfer strategies.

    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.