Practical Farmers of Iowa is pleased to announce the launch of its newly redesigned land-matching website, FindAFarmer.net, a free tool that aims to connect farmland owners with land seekers to preserve family farms. Practical Farmers first developed the tool in 2011 as a way to help Iowa’s aging farmland owners find possible successors, and to support beginning farmers facing the difficulty of accessing land.

The most recent Farmland Ownership and Tenure Survey, released last summer by Iowa State University, shows that 60 percent of Iowa farmland is owned by someone 65 years or older, and 35 percent is owned by someone 75 years or older. In addition, more than half of Iowa’s farmland is farmed by someone other than the owner. FindAFarmer can help retiring farmers find a non-family successor to continue the farm and non-farming landowners find a tenant for a rental arrangement. The site can also help facilitate many other unique land access situations.

Beginning farmers in PFI’s network consistently cite land access as a major barrier to starting or growing their farm operation. Unlike typical real-estate websites, FindAFarmer lets land seekers share their farming values, goals and qualifications. Landowners can share the story of their farmland and their vision for the future. Establishing shared values can give beginning farmers an edge on potential competition for the land while helping landowners ensure their farm vision continues.

“I wanted to find someone who saw it as a family farm,” says David Mitschelen, who made a connection using FindAFarmer that resulted in the sale of his family farm. David grew up on the 40-acre farm and purchased it from his parents when they could no longer manage it. He planned to retire on the farm with his wife, but ultimately decided it was too far from their children and grandchildren.

David had other offers for the farm, but chose the farmer he found on FindAFarmer because they shared a vision for the land. “He looked at the farm the same way I was looking at it,” David says, “with the possibilities of doing the same type of things I had dreamed of.”

Landowners and land seekers from across the U.S. can create a free account at FindAFarmer.net and mark their location or desired location on the map. The website is a place to provide as much information about the farmland or farmer as desired, without sharing personal details. Users start conversations anonymously, which helps eliminate any pressure when looking for a good fit.

Support for beginning farmers and farmland transfer is a top priority for Practical Farmers of Iowa members. FindAFarmer is part of Practical Farmers’ beginning farmer program that provides resources and opportunities to help beginning and aspiring farmers create viable farm businesses. For questions about FindAFarmer, contact Steve Carlson at 515-232-5661 or steve@practicalfarmers.org.

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