US Rep. Chellie Pingree, Commissioner Walter Whitcomb will speak to the many challenges of farmland access, farm transfer, and next-generation farmers at the Farmland Access Conference
Augusta. Maine Farmland Trust and Land For Good will host the third annual Farmland Access Conference on December 4, 2017, at the Augusta Civic Center in Augusta ME. The day-long conference will delve into some of the stickiest issues facing farming today. Workshops will tackle challenges of how to provide for a farm’s future when a farmer is ready to retire, and how next-generation farmers can take on the stewardship of farmland in transition and shepherd the future of Maine’s food system.
“In the next decade, more than 400,000 acres of Maine farmland will transition in ownership, raising the question: what will happen to that land?” explains Erica Buswell, Vice President of Programs for MFT. “To ensure this farmland stays in production, all of us must find a way to support land transition with programs that help farmland owners and make land available and affordable for farmers.”
Last year’s conference brought together 150 established and beginning farmers, landowners, and providers that help farmers with access and transfer issues. Today’s farmers—both those who are transitioning out of farming and those who are starting new farm enterprises—will have a pivotal role in shaping the future of our regional food system.
“With available farmland, a growing food scene, and a dynamic new farmer population, Maine is an exciting and rewarding place do our innovative land access and transfer work,” says Jim Habana-Hafner, Executive Director for Land For Good (LFG). “We have great partners for land access work in every state – and can’t do our work effectively without them. But there’s no question that some of our most long-standing and innovative are in Maine, and MFT is among our strongest allies anywhere. We’re excited to contribute to this vibrant network of so many great farm support organizations in the state.”
The opening plenary panel at the conference will be a conversation about Farmland in the Balance: At the Nexus of Access, Transfer, Viability, and Conservation, and include panelists Chellie Pingree (US Congress), Walter Whitcomb (Maine Agriculture Commissioner), Amanda Beal, (President and CEO, Maine Farmland Trust), Jim Hafner (Executive Director, Land For Good). The panelists will share remarks from their own experiences and areas of expertise in farm access, transfer, viability, and conservation; and offer insights into what’s needed in these areas to continue making progress towards a robust and sustainable Maine food system.
The conference is geared toward a diverse audience including retiring farmers interested in transferring land to next-generation farmers; non-farming landowners that have an interest in making land available for farming; service providers and other advocates, including land trusts, conservation commissions, town planners and lenders with an interest in fostering affordable farmland access; and farmers seeking affordable farmland. Workshops will discuss farmland access strategies, impacts that both federal and state-level policies and programs have on farmland access and transfer, tools for enabling farm transfers, using conservation easements as a component of a farm purchase, how to prepare to buy or sell farmland or a farm business, and more. Conference presenters include local farmers and service providers working on the ground in Maine, as well as experts from around New England.
Exhibits and networking opportunities will be available throughout the day. The conference is hosted by Maine Farmland Trust, and Land For Good. Sponsors include American Farmland Trust, The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry (DACF), The Greenhorns, Agrarian Trust, Cooperative Development Institute, and Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.
For more information or to register, go to mainefarmlandtrust.org or call 207-338-6575. The deadline to register is Thursday, November 30. Cost of attendance is $15 per person and includes a lunch sourced from local farmers and producers.