A 3-year USDA NIFA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) grant will help land seekers and landholders transition agricultural land to the next generation of Oregon farmers and ranchers
A collaborative project of Friends of Family Farmers (FoFF), Oregon Agricultural Trust (OAT), and Rogue Farm Corps (RFC) will develop a network of place-based, regional hubs to support an equitable, intergenerational transfer of farmland to the next generation of farmers and ranchers in Oregon.
This project, Transitioning Oregon’s Farmland: Access, Planning, and Assistance for This Generation and the Next, will support or expand each organization’s existing statewide programming and establish Oregon’s first regional land access hub with a Farmland Navigator in Oregon’s fertile Willamette Valley.
The Farmland Navigator helps land seekers and landholders access educational programs, resources, and service providers to find land or hand their land off to the next generation. Through this project, beginning farmers and ranchers will also be supported by a statewide network of business planning and land access services facilitated by FoFF and RFC. The project’s goal is to help beginning farmers and ranchers establish successful and sustainable farm businesses, prioritizing farmers who are Black, Indigenous, & People of Color (BIPOC), women, LGBTQIA+, and/or low-income, through a documented, replicable, regional, and community-led model.
RFC and FoFF help beginning farmers develop a broad range of skills including financial readiness, business planning, and land access. OAT educates landowners and retirement-age farmers and ranchers about succession planning and working land easements. The organizations also connect land seekers with landowners through a proven, statewide land-linking database and through intergenerational networking events. And they provide one-on-one guidance and technical assistance to both land seekers and landowners.
“The average age of farmers in Oregon is 60, and nearly two-thirds of our state’s farmland is expected to change hands in the next 20 years.” said Project Director and Rogue Farm Corps Executive Director, Abigail Singer. “When this land gets put on the open market, it’s at risk for development, real estate investment, and being taken out of agriculture. But in this moment of transition we also have an opening to connect retiring farmers with a new, more diverse generation of farmers who are ready to take the reins. This USDA grant will provide much-needed resources to facilitate this intergenerational transition work, at a time when beginning farmers face huge barriers to entry.”
This collaborative project will employ several strategies to support equitable land access and farmland transition. These include:
- Farm Launch (RFC): beginning farmers will receive education, peer-to-peer support, and one-on-one technical assistance in marketing, finance, land access, and business planning
- Changing Hands Workshops (RFC): New & retiring farmers will come together for succession and land access training and facilitated intergenerational networking
- 2 Farmland Navigators (FoFF): Navigators will work 1-on-1 with beginning farmers and ranchers on land access and preparing to run their own operations. One navigator will serve BIPOC farmers and one will establish the regional farmer support hub in the Willamette Valley
- Farmland Navigator Guidebook (FoFF): A guide to establishing a regional navigator program will be created for other regions interested in replicating this model.
- Landholder Education (OAT): Education and support on succession planning & easements will be offered for landowners and the service providers (accountants, attorneys, etc) that support these complex transactions.
Over three years, the project will serve at least 188 beginning farmers and ranchers to begin or prepare to begin their own operations, with at least 25% people of color, at least 50% women, transgender, or non-binary, and at least 50% low-income. In addition they will educate 400 ag landowners and train 250 service providers to build readiness, knowledge, and connections for succession.
How to get involved
You can access details on each organization’s programs on their websites and join their newsletters to get updates on project rollout.