Publications aim to help new generation farm sustainably
Two new publications on the ATTRA website will lend a hand to farmland owners who want to encourage the next generation of farmers to consider sustainable practices.
“Conservation Financing for Farm Transfer” was co-authored by National Center for Appropriate Technology Agriculture Specialist Hannah Lewis and Jane Grimsbo Jewett of the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture.
Jewett also authored “Valuing Sustainable Practices” with contributions from NCAT Agriculture Specialist Robert Maggiani.
In addition to being posted on the ATTRA site, the publications are part of “Farm Transitions Toolkit,” a resource guide released Nov. 12 by the Land Stewardship Project and MISA.
“The need for such a comprehensive resource is more critical than ever. With the percentage of older farmers on the rise, it is projected in the next 20 years, 70 percent of ranch land and farmland will change hands,” said Karen Stettler, an organizer with LSP’s “Farm Beginnings” program.
“Conservation Financing for Farm Transfer”—Farmland owners are in a unique position to protect water, soil, and wildlife now and long into the future. The purpose of this publication is to offer guidance to farmland owners on the farm-transfer process when conservation and sustainable agricultural practices are desired. It discusses a variety of the most well-known and commonly used farm-transfer tools to help landowners achieve these conservation goals.
“Valuing Sustainable Practices”—This publication is for farmers who are good stewards of their land and want the people who come after them to carry on that heritage. “Valuing Sustainable Practices” has sections detailing 10 common sustainable agriculture and conservation practices. It discusses some scientific background and reasons for the practices; estimated costs and benefits of each one; some of the barriers that new farmers may face in implementing them; and suggestions for rent, lease, or sale terms that can facilitate these practices.
The “Farm Transitions Toolkit” was developed through a collaborative project involving LSP, MISA, Farmers’ Legal Action Group and ATTRA. Its development was guided by individuals representing a number of organizations. This project was supported by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
“This project is a perfect fit for NCAT’s ATTRA program,” said Carl Little, director of NCAT’s sustainable-agriculture programs. “It’s solid information that helps sustainable farmers and ranchers pass on both the knowledge and the philosophies they’ve built through the years.”
“Too often retiring farmers or people who find themselves in possession of family land feel pressured to make decisions that go against their own values,” added MISA Executive Director Helene Murray. The “Toolkit” can help people align those values with the decisions they make as far as their land’s future is concerned.”
The “Toolkit” contains resources, links to services, and practical calculation tables to help landowners establish a commonsense plan. It also features user-friendly resources on the economic, legal, governmental, agronomic, ecological and even social issues that must be considered in order to ensure a successful farm transition. It is rounded out with thought-provoking profiles of farmers who are in various stages of transitioning their enterprises to the next generation.
“Conservation Financing for Farm Transfer,” can now be downloaded free or purchased for a small handling fee on the ATTRA website at www.attra.ncat.org. You also can purchase paper versions by calling ATTRA at 800-346-9140.
“Valuing Sustainable Practices” is being finalized and will be available on the ATTRA website or by calling ATTRA in early December.
An online version of the “Toolkit” is available at www.landstewardshipproject.org/farmtransitionstoolkit. Paper versions can be purchased by calling 800-909-MISA (6472).