Thursday, May 20, 2010

New Ways for New Farmers to Access Land

Land access is one of the top challenges for beginning farmers, right up there with access to capital, hands-on experience, and good markets. There are no easy answers to this situation. But as economic forces value real estate for its viewshed rather than its soil quality, pushing prices well outside the realm of affordability for farmers, more and more beginning farmers are leasing land.

USDA announced recently the launch of a program intended to provide incentives to landowners who lease or sell their land to new farmers. It’s called the Transition Incentives Program (TIP), and it provides financial incentives to retiring farmers whose land has been enrolled in a Conservation Reserve Program IF they lease or sell their land to a new producer. You can read an article about it here, or check out the USDA’s fact sheet on the Transition Incentives Program. An interesting feature of the program is that it doesn’t require the beginning farmer to have any particular level of experience to qualify.

Retired or retiring owner or operator means an owner or operator of land enrolled in a CRP contract who has ended active labor in farming operations as a producer of agricultural crops or expects to do so within 5 years of the CRP contract modification.

Beginning farmer or rancher means, as determined by CCC, a person or entity who has not been a farm or ranch operator for more than 10 years; materially and substantially participates in the operation of the farm or ranch involved in CRP contract modification; and if an entity, is an entity in which 50 percent of the members or stockholders of the entity meet the first two criteria.

Socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher means a farmer or rancher who is a member of a socially disadvantaged group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities. Gender is not included.

Transition Payments
Retired or retiring owners or operators participating in TIP may receive up to two additional annual rental payments after their CRP contract expires provided the beginning or socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher is not a family member.

Click here for more information about FSA and its programs.

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