Viable Working Farmlands: Succession Planning Advising and Education for New England Farmers

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2023: $166,170.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2026
Grant Recipient: Land For Good
Region: Northeast
State: New Hampshire
Project Leader:


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, technical assistance, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: farm succession

    Proposal abstract:

    Problem or Opportunity and Justification:

    USDA Agricultural Census data shows that 30% of New England’s agricultural producers are age 65 and older, a total of 17,716 producers (2017). Gaining Insights, a study by American Farmland Trust and Land For Good (LFG), found that 92% of New England’s senior farmers likely had no identified successor. This means that nearly a third of the region’s farmland is at risk, with the future of these farms uncertain.

    For many farmers, their land is their only appreciable asset, and their ability to finance retirement rests on the equity in their farmland. These farmers voice concern about the capacity of younger farmers to buy them out. 

    Farmers are interested and willing to look outside the family for a successor. They are also open to innovative strategies for farm transfer and succession. However, they need help understanding their options, navigating the complex process of choosing the right strategies, and finding a suitable successor. They also need technical assistance from expert advisors to design and implement their succession plans. This planning process can take years, and a successful transfer to a new owner is best implemented gradually over a decade. 

    To address this problem, retiring farmers need education, support, encouragement, and wrap-around technical assistance to create and implement succession plans. Retiring farmers also need information, support, and incentives to prioritize transfer to historically underserved farmers.

    Solution and Approach

    This project will create opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, group training and individualized advising for farm succession planning. On farm gatherings (e.g., potlucks, farm tours) will create a relaxed atmosphere for creating a community of support. Existing guides and workbooks will enable farmers to engage at their own pace. New case studies will demonstrate a variety of farm transfer strategies. 

    Different cohorts of farmers will engage each winter in a multi-session Farm Succession School. This course prioritizes peer sharing and interactive, in-depth learning. Farmers who are ready to engage further will receive individualized coaching and advising. 

    Farmers will benefit by getting clarity on their options, feeling supported through a complicated process, writing down concrete steps, identifying advisors and needed resources, moving forward in their planning, and for some finalizing their transfer plan. Educational materials used in this project will promote land transfer to underserved farmers. A new generation of farmers will have additional farmland access opportunities. Working farmlands can continue to offer environmental, economic, and social benefits to their communities. 

    Land For Good has been offering farm succession support since 2004. The methods proposed in this project have successfully advanced knowledge, skills, or behaviors as determined by post-intervention surveys. Direct support for farm succession is the service most requested by our farming community.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    20 farmers will complete written farm succession plans, transferring 2,000 acres of farmland to future farmers, and each report reduced stress.

    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.