New program seeks to match farmers, land
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP)--A new program operating in seven western Montana counties seeks to match would-be farmers with available agricultural land.
"Our goal is to rebuild a vibrant local food system, where farms and ranches are thriving businesses on the land and people of all income levels have access to fresh food," said Paul Hubbard, who founded Land Link Montana.
Hubbard said he hopes the Land Link program will help preserve western Montana's agricultural heritage while boosting its local food production.
Land Link Montana seeks to connect farmers who are just starting out or moving to the area with landowners who may be ready to retire but want to see their land remain in production.
The nonprofit service operates in Flathead, Granite, Lake, Missoula, Powell, Ravalli and Sanders counties.
Land Link Montana handles the technical details of the arrangements, such as financing or lease agreements.
Dan Huls raises dairy cattle on a fourth-generation ranch in the Bitterroot Valley and is a supporter of the Land Link idea.
"What we want to do is give the kids who are in Montana and want that lifestyle every opportunity to do so," Huls said.