Last fall, farm owners, farm seekers, ag. service providers and others gathered together for a state-wide conference on land access issues. At the event, we heard the startling statistic from the Gaining Insights, Gaining Access Project that more than 90% of Maine’s farmers over the age of 65 do not have a young farm operator working alongside them. This statistic suggests that the future of many of these farms are uncertain, and history has taught us that farms with uncertain futures can be vulnerable to transitioning out of agricultural use when they change hands.
At the 2016 Land Access Conference, scheduled to take place on 12/5 at the Augusta Civic Center, MFT will host another day of discussions and dialog where we will grapple with the challenges of how to provide for a farm’s future when a farmer is ready to step back from the work, and how next generation farmers can position themselves to take on the stewardship of farmlands in transition and make their mark on the future of Maine and New England’s Food System.
The theme of this year’s conference will be “400,000 acres”. That’s the amount of land that is potentially in transition as Maine’s senior farm owners contemplate the future of their farms. MFT is seeking proposals from potential conference presenters that can speak to the strategies and tools we can and should draw on to help ensure that lands in transition will remain available for farming, as well as presentations that illuminate the ways in which successful farm transfers are shaping the future of our food system. We are looking for conference content that will provide targeted and practical information for our expected audience of farm owners (including non-farming landowners), farm seekers, ag. service providers, and land trusts.
The deadline to submit a proposal is Tuesday, August 30 at 5pm. To submit a proposal, please click here.