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4th Annual Farmland Access & Transfer Conference

December 3

For farm seekers, retiring farmers, land owners & service providers.

Join us for a day of practical workshops to better understand the options, resources, and steps to accessing or transferring your farm or farmland.

  • Are you a farmer wondering what will happen when you’re ready to stop farming?
  • Are you a farmer looking for land?
  • Are you a landowner thinking about making your property available for farming?
  • Are you a service provider who helps with issues related to farmland access?

Learn strategies for keeping your farmland in production including how to tackle succession planning, plus how to find and secure farmland of your own, negotiate a good lease agreement, and more.

 

Online registration is now CLOSED. If you would like to register, please call the MTF office and ask for Rachel Keidan, (207)-338-6575. You may also walk in and register for the conference the day of. Thank you.

Please find the details for the breakout sessions below:

Opening Session

8:45-10AM

Stories from the Field

Presenters: Stacy Brenner of Broadturn Farm

BrennaMae Thomas-Googins of Patch Farm

Carrie Whitcomb of Springdale Farm

Navigating the decision-making to transfer a farm or to access land is an intensely personal experience, even when shared with family or business partners. Case studies of successful farm transfer and access scenarios abound, and information about different tools and strategies for working through these components of farming are readily available. These resources become all the more useful when informed by the lived experiences of the farmers that have succeeded in transferring and accessing land. This opening session promises to be rich with personal stories about the real-world successes and challenges of farm transfer and access as told from the storyteller’s personal point of view. Join us and gain new insights into and appreciation for some of the real work that goes into farm transfer and access scenarios before we embark on a day full of engaging topics.

Breakout Session 1

10:30AM-NOON

Seeker Track- Preparing to Buy Land and Acquire Financing

Presenters: Erica Buswell, MFT; Mike Ghia, Land For Good; Lucia Brown, Farm Service Agency; Daniel Wallace, Coastal Enterprises, Inc.

Participants in this workshop will learn the basics of financing and get an overview of the steps involved in purchasing land. Presenters will discuss different options for financing a farm purchase, share strategies for working with a lender to secure financing, and help participants understand how the loan application process fits into the context of the purchase process. Presenters will also lead participants through the steps involved in purchasing land, including discussion of purchase and sale contracts and key contingencies, determining how much you can afford, understanding property valuation, making an offer, understanding closing costs and ongoing expenses, and closing the deal. The goal of this session is for workshop attendees to come away from it with a sense of different financing options in Maine, a sense of the key factors a farm seeker needs to consider when finalizing a purchase agreement in keeping with their personal and business goals, and advisors they can call on for additional support when purchasing land. A portion of the content will draw on American Farmland Trust’s land access curriculum for beginning farmers.

Owner Track- Protecting Our Farms from Ourselves, Others, and the Government

Presenters: Paul Dillon, Attorney at Law

This presentation outlines and discusses the reasons for doing proper estate planning as farmers and landowners and the various options and ways to do it.  The presenter will provide information about Wills, revocable living trusts, Durable Financial Powers of Attorneys, and Advance Health Care Directives. The presenter will also discuss the use of the unique irrevocable Maine Care Asset Protection Trust to protect farm land and assets from the threat of Maine Care nursing home estate recovery.

Service Provider Track- Farm Succession Planning: Roles for All Service Providers

Presenters: Kathy Ruhf, Land For Good; Leslie Forestadt, University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Transitioning farms to a successor is a major challenge for most farms. Senior farmers need information, support and advice to plan for a successful transfer. Junior farmers may not know what to ask, or may feel uncomfortable or “pushy” in moving forward with a succession plan.

To assist farmers, a team approach is best. Every farm service provider has a role to play in fostering successful farm transitions, from listening to farmers’ concerns, to building awareness and making good referrals, to providing farm succession assessments and specific technical expertise.

In this session we’ll explore what goes into good farm succession and transfer advising, and how providers can work together. We’ll look at how providers can address the “soft issues” – goal setting, family dynamics, communications, motivation and managing change. The best planning happens when conversations are open and non-judgmental.

Participants will identify how they can add value to the planning process, and practice talking about this sensitive topic with the farmers they work with. The presenters will share their experiences, expertise, and resources. They will integrate individual and peer-to-peer exercises to explore the challenges and opportunities faced by participants who want to enhance their roles as providers of succession planning information and assistance.

Multi-stakeholder Track- How the Sale of a Conservation Easement Can Benefit Land Owners and Seekers

Presenters: Adam Bishop, MFT; Brett Sykes, MFT

At this workshop, presenters will explain the basics of agricultural conservation easements, and what it looks like to own and farm on an easement encumbered property. Typical easement restrictions will be discussed, and presenters will emphasize the opportunities to develop easement terms that are crafted to take the needs of the landowner into account, and to allow for flexibility that will help ensure the future viability of the farm. Presenters will explain the process of working with a land trust on the sale of a conservation easement using real project examples to illustrate how the sale of a conservation easement can benefit both farmland owners, as well as individuals seeking to acquire farmland at an affordable price. The workshop will also cover how easement purchase prices are determined, general process questions such as timeline, working with banks and/or realtors, and the long term impacts of deciding to proceed with the sale of a conservation easement.

Breakout Session 2

12:45-2PM

Seeker Track- Establishing Access to Land with a Good Lease

Presenters: Erica Buswell, MFT; Cara Cargill, Land For Good

For many farm seekers, obtaining a secure lease agreement is a desirable option for establishing access to farmland, and is the type of land access arrangement that most closely aligns with their personal and business goals. Good lease agreements typically stem from a shared understanding of the farmers and landowners respective goals and needs, and address both the elements of land use and expectations for communication. This workshop will discuss the significance of all parties communicating values and goals upfront, the importance of having a good lease, what key components should be included in a lease, and strategies for differentiating between what’s required and what’s desired in a lease agreement. Participants will also have an opportunity to interact with Land For Good’s innovative Build-A-Lease tool designed to educate and guide farmers and landowners through the process of crafting a first draft of a lease on their own. Participants will leave with knowledge of how a lease can work to their benefit, a sense of what should be included in a good lease, and the skills to draft a lease specific to their situation. Presenters will distribute lease examples/templates, along with additional worksheets and resources. A portion of the content will draw on American Farmland Trust’s land access curriculum for beginning farmers.

Owner Track- Succession Planning without a Successor

Presenters: Kathy Ruhf, Land For Good

Succession planning can be challenging for any farmer. For those without an identified family or unrelated successor, the future of the farm seems especially tenuous. At the same time, many next generation farmers do not have family farms to inherit. What are the unique needs of transitioning farmers without successors? What programs and services can help them, and what could improve? How can service providers best assist them? This session will examine the dynamics of “no identified successor,” and explore how transitioning farmers and their advisers can recruit and integrate a successor to assure a secure exit and a meaningful farming opportunity.

Owner Track- Making Your Land Available for Farming

Presenters: Abby Sadauckas, Land For Good; Stephanie Gilbert, Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry

Are you wondering if farming might be a good use for your land? Whether you’re just exploring the idea or you know that your land is well-suited, this session can help.
Attendees will benefit by clarifying their goals, values and vision and assessing their motivation and current situation. They will gain information, support and guidance around what to consider when making their land available, different arrangements for doing so and will get answers to frequently asked questions. Participants will learn the fundamentals of a good land use agreement and how to assess their land for agricultural use. They will also learn keys to an effective description of the situation, techniques for selecting a “good fit” from prospective farmer applicants and what it means to be a good landlord.

Following the workshop, participants will feel knowledgeable about how proceed with making their land available, crafting a land use agreement and finding the right farmers for their situation.

We will hand out LFG’s guidebook, Farmland Leasing for Private Landowners: A Short Guide, along with related worksheet(s).

Multi-stakeholder Track- Cooperative and Commons-Based Strategies for Land Access

Presenters: Carrie Green Yardley, Esq. of Yardley Esq. PLLC and Conservation Law Foundation Food Hub; Jonah Fertig-Burd, Cooperative Development Institute; Jamie Pottern, Agrarian Trust, Deborah Hawkins, Cooperative Fund of New England

This workshop will address alternative legal structures for ownership, management and stewardship of agrarian resources.

Jonah Fertig-Burd will explain the basic principles underlying cooperative governance, describe the most common types of cooperatives, and provide examples of operating cooperatives.

Carrie Green Yardley will demonstrate how the basic cooperative principles may be extended to other legal business structures, including statutory cooperatives and limited liability companies, both in Maine and elsewhere.

Jamie Pottern will describe use of Conservation and Community Land Trust combined structures to create local 501c2 farm commons to own farmland for natural resource conservation, community equity and self-determination of sustainable food production, ecological stewardship, soil health and agrarian economy and secure and equitable tenure for farm enterprises.

Deborah Hawkins will describe CFNE lending programs and provide insight into CFNE financing standards.

Breakout Session 3

2:30-3:30PM

Seeker Track- Succession Planning for Next Generation Farmers

Presenters: Erica Buswell, MFT; Shemariah Blum-Evitts, Land For Good

This session is for next-generation farmers–family or unrelated potential successors–who want to better understand, initiate or participate in planning for succession or transfer of a farm. Succession planning is typically associated with senior farmers preparing future arrangements for the farm after their retirement or death. It can be equally valuable for the next generation of farmers interested in management and/or ownership of the farm to be engaged in the planning process. Farm transfer is a two-way street: the legacy and future of the farm is at stake. This session will specifically address succession planning from the next-generation farmers view. We will introduce concepts and documents that next-gen farmers should know, including some of the elements, steps, and mechanisms involved in a land transfer as well as legal and tax considerations; how they can initiate, lead and/or participate in the process; strategies for engaging in effective communication as part of a succession; and where to get further resources and assistance to tackle this important topic. The content of the session will draw from Land For Good’s guidebook, Farm Succession and Transfer: Strategies for the Junior Generation, and from American Farmland Trust’s land access curriculum for beginning farmers.

 

Seeker Track- Conducting A Land Search

Presenters: Jason Silverman, Land For Good; Sue Lanpher, MFT

For farm seekers and aspiring farmers, the search for land can often be one of the most daunting tasks. In this workshop we will discuss the process, strategies, and tools for making the most out of your hunt for farmland. This will include web tools such as online linking sites and soil analysis, affordability calculations and strategies, and methods for evaluating land and infrastructure for suitability. Suitable for farmers not currently on land and for those looking to evaluate current or additional pieces of land. Attendees will leave with a road map for secure land tenure that includes how to conduct a land search, determine the “right” type of tenure for their situation, and where to find available land.

Multi-stakeholder Track- Can the farm support multiple families? Business planning for the future of the farm

Presenters: Kelly McAdam, Agricultural Business Management Field Specialist, University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension

When considering a farm transfer, the financial viability of the farm will be key to the future success of the incoming generation. The overlap in management and ownership is vital for this transition, and as such the ability for the farm to financially support more than one family. Will the farm need to add additional enterprises, does the next generation have the financial resources to invest in the future of the farm, how well are the farm’s resources utilized to generate income? The development of a business plan will help to answer these questions, and bring up important points for discussion during the farm succession planning process. In this session we will take a closer look at the components of the business plan and discuss considerations and examples for how the financial viability of the farm might be improved to support multiple generations.

 

Multi-stakeholder Track- Bridging the Gap: Reducing Awkwardness in Transfer Negotiation

Presenters: Leslie Forstadt, University of Maine Cooperative Extension; Tori Jackson, University of Maine Cooperative Extension; Abby Sadauckas, Land For Good

There are important questions that may go unasked during a negotiation, and this can lead to awkward feelings and conversations between land owners and land seekers. In this session, we’ll identify some of the awkward spots that may arise in transfer conversations and explore ways to work through them together. The presenters will provide information about how people of different life stages might approach these conversations and why having a clear vision is important. Participants will practice how to step into another person’s perspective, learn how to say what they mean, and clarify what they’ve heard. Participants will leave this session with a better sense of how to approach exploratory conversations with ease and how to discern shared values with prospective successors to build mutual understanding.

Multi-stakeholder Track- Calculate Your Route to Land Access

Presenters: Mike Parker, National Young Farmers Coalition

If you are a farmer seeking land or a service provider who assists with farmland access, you know how confusing it can be to consider all the financial options available to help you get started. The National Young Farmers Coalition has built a free tool to guide farmers through financial decision making related to land access: the Finding Farmland Calculator.

In this session, Mike Parker will lead a demonstration of the Finding Farmland Calculator, a free tool designed for farmers to build farmland purchasing scenarios, compare detailed cost estimates and affordability metrics, and download results to prepare for meetings with lenders.

Thank you to our sponsors: