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Seeking Farmers for Farm Succession Project

Added February 9, 2015

Is planning for retirement and the future of your farm on your “to do” list? Would you be willing to share your ideas and concerns about your farm transition? If you are a senior operator, the junior generation, or a beginning organic dairy farmer with ideas and concerns about how organic dairies will be passed on please read on.

The farm succession conundrum. Of all the daily challenges that organic dairy farmers grapple with, farm succession is not usually on the list. It’s easier to put off planning for that unsettled future, and to avoid uncomfortable subjects like death and taxes. But we all know that the future of the farm is a concern for most farmers. A 2014 national gathering of senior organic farmers expressed an overriding concern with how they would be able to retire, and also pass their knowledge to the next generation. Organic farming groups such as NODPA share these concerns, as do younger farmers and the increasing number of devoted organic food consumers.

A new project led by Land For Good (LFG) will give the organic farm transition “conundrum” focused attention and support. LFG is a New England nonprofit organization that specializes in farm access and transfer. Its organic farm succession project will investigate organic dairy farmers’ unique dilemmas and opportunities in transition planning. Supported by grants from Organic Valley’s Farmers Advocating for Organics Fund and the Clif Bar Family Foundation, LFG will hold discussion groups and conduct interviews with organic dairy farmers across New England to develop better strategies to help farmers address farm succession.

Farmers’ voices are key! Please participate in this project. LFG seeks farmers at any stage of succession planning—from not having considered it yet to having a plan in place. Junior generation on the farm and young farmers looking to transition into organic dairying are also invited. All too often discussion and actions on farm succession get triggered far too late—by crisis or death. By that time options for a secure retirement and certain farm legacy have been drastically reduced. Too many farms are lost forever as a result. It’s so much better to plan earlier for retirement and farm transfer. Midlife farmers are especially welcome in this project.
LFG will hold discussion groups in Vermont and mid-Maine in March and early April.  These gatherings will explore farm transfer and access challenges in the organic dairy sector. As a participant, you will provide valuable insights leading to improved services to transitioning organic farmers.  You will also learn from each other about attitudes and strategies to create a secure transition and meaningful legacy. LFG will also conduct individual phone or in-person interviews.

All participants will receive a stipend and mileage reimbursement. And, throughLFG’s Farm Legacy Program, project participants will be eligible to receive free or discounted farm succession planning services. The information and insights shared by farmers will lead to development of resources and assistance especially targeted to organic farmers. Your perspectives and experiences will help all generations of organic farmers keep their farms in farming. And you will have a chance to get further down the road to having a concrete plan for farm succession or transfer in place.

Interested? Call Land For Good at 603-357-1600 or email info@landforgood.org and a staff member will get back to you with details. You can learn more about Land For Good at www.landforgood.org.