Our Good Work, Winter 2021

As I look forward to spring -and this year- with hope and renewal, I am personally reflecting on the many ways that farming is a profession of hope. Farmers anticipate every new growing season and production cycle with hope. They must move forward with hope -about weather, market conditions, and their ability to sustain their farms. I am hopeful that this year will be marked by concrete steps toward a more robust, equitable and resilient post-COVID food system that strengthens our communities, economies and ecosystems.

The land security of farmers and growers are the foundation of that food system. The ongoing pandemic will certainly add to this year’s uncertainty, both for farmers and local economies. Last year’s market disruptions created crises and opportunities for farmers. Some farmers struggled to keep their businesses afloat, while many adapted to new realities and demand. We are seeing senior farmers and farm families motivated to address farm succession, whether due to an urgent need or desire to retire and pass on the farm. A sound transition plan, including identifying a new successor, can prevent the loss of farms and working farmland that impacts us all. Read an inspiring farmer's story about transferring the farm in this issue.

We're helping more farm families and advocating for working lands and racial equity in our food system. Thanks to grants and new collaborations, we are able to collaborate with peers on team-based farm advising and coaching. Read more in this issue about this advocacy and farm viability work. 

We also welcome another farmer to our team! Katie Steere, our new Rhode Island Field Agent, runs Deep Roots Farm. She will provide direct assistance and training to farmers, farm families and farmland owners, and continue to coordinate ongoing and new work with our state partner organizations. We are excited about the next chapter of our work in Rhode Island and Katie's eagerness to put her farm business and farmland access knowledge to work.

"My personal land search first seemed like a series of missed connections and opened my eyes to the unique challenges we face in Rhode Island with farmland access,” shared Katie.

As winter's chill gives way to the frenzy of the growing season, or sooner, the sugaring season, we thank our farmers for their continued resilience needed to sustain our communities. We thank our donors for joining with us to support working farms. And we look forward to seeing many of you again out on our farms, farmers markets, and working lands.

With gratitude,

Jim Hafner
Executive Director
Welcome Katie Steere, our new Rhode Island Field Agent

Join us in welcoming Katie Steere, a livestock farmer and community leader from Glocester RI, to the Land For Good team as our new Rhode Island Field Agent.

We met Katie last January 2020 through the Landing on the Right Acre farmer storytelling event hosted by the Young Farmer Network that brought together a slice of the agricultural community over food and drinks while farmers recounted their journeys into agriculture through the lens of accessing farmland. Farmers shared personal and instructive insights that spanned a range of farmland access challenges and successes in Rhode Island, as well as the diversity of farmer personalities in the region.

Katie shared a poignant story about her aspiration to return to and revive her family farm. Her farming roots stretch back to her childhood where she grew up on her family’s seventh generation dairy farm, which had closed down before she was born. 

Free webinar series: Farm Succession Planning

Are you unsure who will take over your farm? Feel like your family needs to start talking, but you don't know where to start? Have questions about passing on the farm that you don't know how to answer?

This webinar series is an opportunity for farmers and farm families to learn the basics of farm succession planning, how to get started, where to find advisors and additional resources, ask questions of succession planning experts, and get support on this challenging process.

March 16 - Getting Started with Your Farm Succession Planning:
Resources, Tips and Where to Get Assistance

March 23 - Financial Considerations for Your Farm Succession Planning:
Taxes, Viability and Retirement

March 30 - Legal Considerations for Your Farm Succession Planning:
Business Entities, Estate Planning


Advance registration is required. Registration gives you access to all of the webinars in this series, as well as class worksheets and resource handouts. Webinar recordings will also be made available to watch at your convenience.

For additional resources, check out our Toolbox for Farm Transfer Planning.
A farmer's personal reflection on transferring the farm

Stories of work horses pulling hay wagons and picnics in the hayfields filled my childhood. I assumed there would always be farms and lots of open space for romping and daydreaming, but the reality now, half a century later, is that farms are disappearing rapidly and along with them the benefits of local agriculture.

Several years back, my husband and I began to realize that as our ages were creeping up, we needed to address the question of farm succession to our next generation. 

Read Janet's story, a personal story from a farmer and client, soon turned friend and LFG Board member.
Vermont's Agriculture & Food System Strategic Plan just released

The long-awaited Vermont Agriculture & Food System Strategic Plan 2021-2030 was released this month and presented to legislatureVermont will have a substantial transfer of agricultural land over the next decade.

It's estimated over the next five years, as many as 300 Vermont farms may change hands as existing farmers retire. Prioritizing creative approaches to farmland ownership and access will create farming opportunities for more people, including historically marginalized communities within and outside Vermont, who are disproportionately underrepresented in farmland ownership.

Our staff were contributing authors for issue briefs on alternative land ownership and access models, farmland conservation, succession, and racial equity in the Vermont food system, including recommendations to increase state resources and funding opportunities.

For more information, visit vtfarmtoplate.com/plan.
New Hampshire farms receive team-based business planning assistance

Organizations from around New Hampshire are partnering to offer teams of coaches to New Hampshire farms and food businesses to help them meet their business and management goals.

Thanks to a grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission, administered by the Agricultural Viability Alliance, Land For Good and other local organizations will offer teams of specialists tailored to farm and food businesses individual needs in Belknap, Cheshire, Coos, Grafton, and Sullivan counties. Farms and food businesses can apply online now for coaching assistance.

We are a key partner on the NH Farm Future Fund, a grant program that is privately funded and administered by the Cheshire County Conservation District on behalf of the NH Association of Conservation Districts that has a second round of funding for 2021. Applicants will be notified of award by late March 2021.

Special thanks also to the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation that has awarded Land For Good a general operating support grant to help with outreach, education, collaboration and direct service to support farmland access and transfer in New Hampshire and the region over the next three years!

Read more about these great efforts on our Blog.
In Massachusetts, refugee and immigrant farmers are looking for land

Refugee and immigrant farmers in the Springfield MA area are building a food system by and for the community. They know intimately the needs and strengths of their communities and are working together to build a just local food system, one that is led by and serving some of our most marginalized neighbors.

Secure access to land is the number one barrier refugee and immigrant farmers face. Structural inequalities and wealth disparities bar these farmers from individually purchasing farmland, and land leases are often short-term. All Farmers, a Springfield-based nonprofit, is working with these farmers to find and acquire a piece of farmland for 60 multigenerational farm families. Can you help?

Join us in local land redistribution, and building a just food system by helping us secure a permanent farming home for refugees and immigrants in the Springfield area. Help build solidarity with the farmers and share this project by spreading the word!

If you have land in Hampden County, MA that might meet the needs of the farmers, please contact Hannah Spare at land@allfarmers.world, or by phone at 413-342-0064.

Don’t have land but want to get involved? Learn more at www.refugees.farm.
Training more advisors across New England to help transitioning farm families

Successful farm transfers require a supportive and expert team of service providers. With a grant from Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), we are hosting training opportunities for professionals to improve teamwork and capacity to do farm succession planning.

In January, over 100 professionals who play succession advising and support roles in their state including attorneys, financial advisors, extension staff, conservation groups, mediators, farm link programs, land trusts, and non-profit agriculture service providers attended our trainings across New England. The groups will meet virtually over the coming weeks.

An opportunity for attorneys and financial advisors will be held at a future time to focus on technical, legal, and financial components of succession plans, as well as peer-to-peer learning and network-building, with presentations by experts, small group case and problem-solving clinics, and round-table best practice discussions.

"As a result of attending this training, I'm able to practice good listening skills and ask good questions. I can't stress enough how much of a good framework that was for me... and really try to be there for farmers as they explore what succession means to them,” shared one participant.

Attorneys & financial advisors stay tuned about this unique training opportunity.
USDA temporarily suspends payments under CFAP but there's hope to see forward motion in the coming weeks

The US Department of Agriculture has suspended the processing and payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) and has halted implementation of additional assistance until further notice. USDA has also temporarily suspended debt collections, foreclosures and other activities on farm loans.

According to their website, in the coming days USDA and the Biden Administration intend to take additional steps to bring relief and support to all parts of food and agriculture during the coronavirus pandemic, including by ensuring producers have access to the capital, risk management tools, disaster assistance, and other federal resources. USDA’s Farm Service Agency will continue to accept new or modified CFAP applications during this evaluation period from eligible producers through February 26, 2021.

With USDA Secretary Vilsack confirmed along with other key appointments, we are expecting developments on key aid programs including a stronger focus on equity, accessibility, and local and regional food systems. If you are a farmer or work with farmers and have experiences, recommendations, or suggestions that you believe should be factored into Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 3.0), please contact us so we can share your input with USDA leadership through our work within National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC).

Additional resources can help farmers navigate COVID-19 relief. NSAC has reissued their five-page resource list for producers in English and Spanish.

For more information on CFAP, visit farmers.gov/cfap.
New England Farmland Finder connects farm seekers to available farm properties for purchase or lease

Do you know a farmer looking for land? Or a landowner looking for a farmer? You can help spread the word. With over 4,400 subscribed farm seekers and 93,000 users last year, New England Farmland Finder (NEFF) is the region's #1 farm linking website.  

"This site is invaluable–especially for farmers looking for property who might not be prone to knocking on my door. Thank you!” - Judy, a landowner

Landowners can post properties at no charge to reach thousands of farm seekers directly. Learn how to create an effective property posting that gets more views by farmers.

"I learned how to connect with farmers who are seeking or selling farms; the resources provided are unlike any others available. In real estate, we rely heavily on our Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and most farm land is not listed there....it's tough to find and the site you provide is invaluable! Farms present a whole new level of property to me." - Tracy Sladen, MA Real Estate Agent

You make this good work possible!

You are an important part of the Land For Good community! On behalf of the farmers and farmland owners we serve, thank you for your generous support during a challenging year, and our critical year-end giving season.

You should feel proud of your contributions to keep farmland in active farming. Your response to our gift match challenge helped us exceed our goal raising $10,000 for our Opportunity Fund that supports direct services to farmers. With your support, we look forward to putting more farmers on more land in 2021.

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Find more info on education and training opportunities, new farm property postings from New England Farmland Finder, as well as inspiring farmer stories on social media. Plus learn how you can get involved in gaining ground for all farmers.

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