Creative Financing Strategies for Sustainable Farmland Succession
The landscape of agriculture is quickly changing. As a generation of farmers retire, farmland is transitioning away from use for productive, small-scale farms and is consolidating into the hands of absentee owners. The increased cost of land and restrictive access to capital create barriers to entry for the next generation that threaten the viability of small-scale agriculture. To overcome these obstacles, alternatives to conventional succession planning and financing strategies must be considered. This forum will explore capital-raising alternatives that can help keep farmland in the hands of small farmers and harness the collective wealth of the community. These sources of capital will be discussed in the context of succession planning strategies that prioritize long-term stewardship of land in agriculture, strengthen the local food economy, and create economic opportunity for next generation farmers/farmworkers. The forum will be moderated by Neil Thapar, a food and farm attorney at Sustainable Economies Law Center. Mai Nguyen, a small-scale farmer and Cooperative Development Associate at the California Center for Cooperative Development, will highlight the role cooperatives can play in enabling limited-resource farmers to own farmland and operate sustainable, equitable farm businesses. Kendra Johnson, a land access and farm conservation consultant, will discuss the role land trusts can play in farm succession– including her experience preserving a farm for future generations, and raising community funds for the easement to do so. Cameron Rhudy, an attorney at Sustainable Economies Law Center, will discuss the legal requirements to using these alternative strategies for accessing land and capital.