Lease: Discover how farm leasing can help new farmers access land and build equity, and build a draft lease using our online Farm Lease Builder.
Access: Explore creative arrangements that make farmland access more affordable.
Transfer: Understand methods and strategies for transferring a farm to the next generation.
The Farmland Access Legal Toolkit helps farmers and landowners affordably access, transfer, and conserve farmland.
A sustainable food system depends on ecologically-minded farmers having access to farmland. But due to development pressure and the high cost of land—which is out of reach for many farmers—American farmland is disappearing.
Agricultural land in the U.S.—essential not only for growing food, but in supporting the health of soil, air, water, landscapes, communities, and economies—is being developed and lost at an astronomical rate. As of 2017, the average age of U.S. farmers hovered around 57 years old. In the next decade, millions of acres of farmland will change hands, but the fate of that land is uncertain.
The good news is that there are growing numbers of Americans interested in farming—yet research indicates that the one of the biggest challenges they face is land access. According to a survey by the National Young Farmers Coalition, land access is the single most difficult obstacle young and beginning farmers face. This issue is particularly acute for BIPOC and New American farmers, due to centuries of systemic racism in American agriculture.
Thanks to funding from the USDA National Agricultural Library, we created the Farmland Access Legal Toolkit to address this problem. Geared towards farm-seekers, farmers, landowners, and their advocates and technical service providers, the toolkit offers educational information on legal issues that arise when leasing land, purchasing land using conservation easements and other tools to make it more affordable, and transferring land. Innovative online tools like the Farm Lease Builder help farmers and landowners discuss and come to agreements on farmland lease provisions, reducing expenses by producing a draft lease ready for an an attorney’s review. In-depth case studies on the site display a range of creative leasing and land transfer strategies used around the country.
The toolkit is predominantly in English but there are a few Spanish language resources on the site, with more in the works.