SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — This fall, American Farmland Trust and its partners celebrate the milestone of connecting more than 50 farmers with farmland across New York through the state-funded Farmland for a New Generation New York program. Launched in October 2018, Farmland for a New Generation New York is a partnership between the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, American Farmland Trust, and a network of 27 land trusts, Cornell Cooperative Extension offices, and other agricultural organizations, all working together to bring a new generation of farmers onto land across the state.
In New York, farmers over 65 outnumber those under 35 at a rate of three to one, and senior farmers own or operate nearly 2 million acres of land that is likely to change hands as they retire. This is not a problem unique to New York, but New York’s solution is unique and highly successful. A new report from American Farmland Trust, “Farms Under Threat: The State of the States,” found that New York’s Farmlink program ranked first in the nation in helping farmers find land. New York’s leadership is reflective of its partnership-driven, comprehensive approach that combines the efficiency and ease of accessing farmland and farmer listings online with the expertise and support from dedicated staff working one-on-one with farmers facing complex decisions for the future of their farms. Thanks to the state of New York, Farmland for a New Generation New York provides these services for free to retiring farmers to help them keep their land in farming, to farmland owners who don’t farm their land to ensure they can make their land available for farming, and to new and existing farmers to help them overcome barriers in finding land to launch or expand farm businesses.
Serving all 62 counties, Farmland for a New Generation New York features a one-stop-shop Resource Center and farmland finder website (www.nyfarmlandfinder.org), and one-on-one support to farmers and landowners from experts at American Farmland Trust and 27 Regional Navigators organizations. Since the launch of the program, over 25,000 users have visited the website, and over 1,500 have received direct assistance leading to 53 matches of farmers to nearly 2,000 acres of farmland with more coming in every month.
“A resilient food system relies on farmers to feed communities, whether in times of prosperity or of crises. And yet farmers cannot fill this critical role without a place to farm. With nearly one in three farmers in New York over 65, many without someone poised to take over when they retire, it’s now more important than ever to support farmers in navigating the complex process of transitioning their farm and to help a new generation gain access to land,” said Erica Goodman, American Farmland Trust’s New York regional director. “In just two years and thanks to state funding and collaboration, Farmland for a New Generation New York’s dedicated network of partners have made tremendous impact. Continued state support is needed, particularly for farmers that face systemic inequities to accessing land, to ensure that the millions of acres of land set to transition makes its way safely in the hands of a new generation.”
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “With the average age of farmers increasing, it is so important to support our new and young farmers who will keep agricultural lands in production, ensure open space is preserved, and bolster the future of the industry in our state. Protecting our farmland from development and connecting our farmers with land and other resources needed to launch or expand new agricultural ventures are key to maintaining New York’s farming community for generations to come.”
Senator Jen Metzger, Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, said, “I want to give a big CONGRATULATIONS to American Farmland Trust in reaching such an incredible milestone in their Farmland for a New Generation New York program, connecting 53 farmers with farmland across New York in less than two years. This is an incredible achievement and will help keep farming strong in New York well into the future. One of the biggest barriers for new and beginning farmers is access to land, and AFT’s program widens opportunities for these farmers while saving irreplaceable farmland from development. I look forward to continuing to work with AFT in support of a prosperous and sustainable future for New York’s farms.”
Senator Rachel May, Chair of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources, said, “The American Farmland Trust’s ‘Farmland for a New Generation New York’ program is crucial as we look to help the next generation of farmers find the land they need. By connecting young, diverse people with current farm owners and helping both parties through the often-difficult transfer process, FNG is ensuring we have active, family-owned farmland to keep us all fed. I am thrilled at the progress this program has made in such a short timeframe and look forward to supporting their efforts long into the future.”
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, said, “In just two short years, Farmland for a New Generation has become a national model. The work of transitioning farmland into the hands of new farmers protects the land and the agricultural economy. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the pandemic it is that we must focus more energy on strengthening and protecting every part of our food supply system. Keeping farmland in the hands of farmers is a very important part of that effort.”
Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner said, “Access to farmland remains one of the primary barriers for those seeking to enter the agriculture industry. Too often, new farmers are unable to find appropriate farmland at an affordable price that offers adequate security to launch a viable business. The Farmland for a New Generation program was designed to address this issue by connecting aspiring farmers with those who are seeking to retire to keep agricultural land in production. The program has proven to be successful, connecting over 50 new farmers with land over the course of the past two years. I want to congratulate American Farmland Trust, the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, Cornell Cooperative Extension, the land trusts, and all of the partners that have helped to make this program a success.”
Learn more about Farmland for a New Generation New York and find listings of farm properties, farm seekers, and on-farm job opportunities at www.nyfarmlandfinder.org.
American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms No Food message. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.5 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on a half million additional acres and supported thousands of farm families
— American Farmland Trust
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