Tag Archives: Maine Farmland Trust

Results of 2017 Ag Census Concerning for Maine Farms and Farmland

Last week, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of the USDA released the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The Census is conducted every five years, and provides national, state, and county-level agricultural data that informs many federal farm programs, policies, and funding decisions. Maine’s Census Report contains some very alarming facts about the loss of farmland and farms in our state, although there is some more positive news about farmer demographics, local food sales, and organic agriculture.

According to the 2017 Census, Maine has lost a significant amount of farmland in the last five years.

  • In 2012, Maine had 1,454,104 acres in farmland, but by 2017 that number had dropped to 1,307,566 acres – a loss of 146,491 acres or 10% of Maine’s farmland.
  • In fact, according to American Farmland Trust, Maine was in the top five states with declines in farmland between 2012 and 2017.

Our losses in farmland were coupled with an equally troubling loss of farms.

  • Maine has lost 573 farms since the Census was last conducted, going from 8,173 farms in 2012 to 7600 farms in 2017.
  • Farms disappeared in every size category except for small farms (1 to 9 acres), which went from 1,239 farms in 2012 to 1,427 farms in 2017, and the largest farms (2,000 acres or more), which went from 55 farms in 2012 to 70 farms in 2017.

The new Census data also reflects the difficult economic conditions many farmers face in Maine and across the Nation.

  • The total and average per farm market value of agricultural products both decreased during the last five years. The total market value went from $763,062,000 in 2012 to $666,962,000 in 2017 (a decline of 12.6%), while the average per farm market value of agricultural products decreased from $93,364 in 2012 to $87,758 in 2017 (a decline of 6%).
  • In addition, farmers in Maine lost income over this period. Average net income per farm decreased from $20,141 in 2012 to $16,958 in 2017 (a decline of 15.8%), and average net income for producers declined from $19,953 in 2012 to $16,894 in 2017 (a decline of 15.3%).
  • Interestingly, total farm production expenses decreased from $645,631,100 in 2012 to $586,564,000 in 2017 (a decrease of 9%, which could be explained in part by the number of farms that were lost), and average production expenses decreased slightly from $78,996 in 2012 to $77,179 in 2017 (a decrease of 2.3%).

The numbers are clear — now’s the time to step up and support a future for farming in Maine.

It’s not all bad news. There are some positive trends identified by the Census, including farmer demographic statistics. The 2017 Census made some significant changes to the way it collected demographic data to better represent the individuals making decisions about a farming operation. As such, the Census collected information on up to four producers per farm. This change not only provides us more robust demographic data on producers, but it also counts more farmers in Maine. Here are some of the most significant demographic changes, although it is important to note that some of these changes could just reflect the change in data collection processes.

  • The total number of producers increased from 13,168 in 2012 to 13,414 in 2017, and the total number of principal producers increased from 8,173 in 2012 to 10,705.
  • The total number of women producers increased from 5,398 in 2012 to 5,859 in 2017, and the total number of women principal producers increased from 2,381 in 2012 to 4,265 in 2017.
  • The average age of a farmer in Maine did increase, going from 55.1 in 2012 to 56.5 in 2017, while the average age of a principal producer increased slightly from 57 in 2012 to 57.4 in 2017.
  • The Census did show that there are both more younger farmers and more younger farmers involved in the management of farms in Maine, although again it is unclear the extent to which those differences reflect just the changes to data collection.
    • The numbers of producers age 25 to 34 increased going from 1005 in 2012 to 1068 in 2017, and the number of producers age 35 to 44 increased as well, going from 1,562 in 2012 to 1,780 in 2017.
    • The number of primary producers under age 25 increased from 62 in 2012 to 72 in 2017.
    • The number of primary producers age 25 to 34 increased from 488 in 2012 to 731 in 2017.
    • The number of primary producers age 35 to 44 increased from 834 in 2012 to 1400 in 2017.
  • The number of older farmers in Maine and the number of older farmers involved in the management of farms in Maine also increased.
    • The number of producers age 65 to 74 increased, going from 2,346 producers in 2012 to 2,977 producers in 2017.
    • The number of farmers age 75 and older also increased, going from 920 producers in 2012 to 1,270 in 2017.
    • The number of primary producers age 65 to 74 increased, going from 1,652 in 2012 to 2,481 in 2017.
    • The number of primary producers age 75 and older also increased, going from 715 in 2012 to 1,105 in 2017.

While the number of farmers under 44 increased by 9.6 %, the number of farmers age 65 and older increased by 30 %, signaling an urgent need for succession and retirement planning.

There were some very positive trends in both local food production and organic operations.

  • The value of food sold directly to consumers increased from $24,793,000 in 2012 to $37,868,000 in 2017 (an increase of almost 53%).
  • In addition, $74,513,000 of food was sold locally via retail markets, institutions, and local food hubs in 2017.
  • Total organic product sales increased significantly during the last five years, going from $36,401,000 in 2012 to $60,027,000 in 2017 (an increase of almost 65%).
  • As a result, the average per farm organic product sales also makes a huge leap, going from $65,706 in 2012 to $108,744 (an increase of 65.5%).

 

Despite some of these positive demographic and local and organic food production trends, the loss of farms and the loss of farmland during the last five years reflects the significant challenges facing our agriculture sector. We can help to shift these trends by protecting farmland – providing the land base to grow the agricultural economy in Maine – and providing farmers with the critical resources they need for economically viable businesses and successful succession plans. 

Now more than ever, we need your help to make sure Maine farms succeed.  Will you step up to support a future for farming in Maine?

 

 

Winter Ski/Snowshoe/Hike

Come explore another beautiful farm that MFT helped to protect in 2015.  We’ll ski or hike around the many trails that surround High View Farm, stopping in the farm yurt for a hot drink and conversation with farmers Bill and Darcy about their land and hopes for the future.  All ages and experience welcome.  Bring your own skis/snowshoes or winter boots!

Free for MFT members, $5 donation suggested for non-members.

Please RSVP to Caroline@mainefarmlandtrust.org// 207-338-6575 x 305.

2019 T-Shirt Design Contest

Calling all creatives! Enter the 20th Anniversary MFT t-shirt design contest for a chance to have your artwork selected to grace the front of our t-shirts this summer!

 

The tagline for this year’s t-shirt is: Farms Feed ME

 

Submissions must be of professional quality and must be the original work of the entrant. Any other work, including but not limited to work copied from magazines, artwork by another artist, photos not taken by the artist, or work that incorporates elements that are not the original work of the Artist will not be considered original. Designs may be hand-drawn or computer-designed, but “clip art” is not allowed. Hand-drawn artwork must be scanned in and converted into a PDF file; no photographs of original artwork will be accepted. Artwork must be emailed either as a PDF or JPG and must be a minimum of 300dpi.

The artist of the selected design will assign to MFT perpetual and exclusive rights to the use of the design in all forms and formats. MFT may reproduce in any fashion, including multimedia and electronic imaging, all or any portion of the design, and distribute for profit any reproductions of the design on clothing, merchandise and goods, including, but not limited to tshirts, sweatshirts, bags, hats. Upon submission each artist will warrant the right to convey all of these rights to MFT and agree to indemnify MFT against any claims arising out of the artist’s breach of this warranty, including reasonable attorney fees.

The creator of the chosen design will receive five T-shirts and a complimentary MFT membership!

To Enter:

Complete the form below and submit your file by April 15. Questions? Contact Rachel rkeidan@mainefarmlandtrust.org.

  • Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: jpg, gif, png, pdf.
Amanda-Beal-MFT-2

Amanda Beal nominated to lead Maine’s Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

Amanda Beal, MFT’s President and CEO, was recently nominated for the position of Maine’s Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and has accepted the governor’s nomination.

MFT staff and board are sad to see Amanda leave, but we know her thoughtful, collaborative leadership and deep familiarity with the agricultural landscape will serve Maine well in this role. Amanda has an acute awareness of the interconnectedness of agriculture, conservation, and forestry and a deep appreciation for how policy can bolster the good work that Maine’s hardworking farmers, foresters and conservation organizations are doing on the ground throughout the state.

“I have loved working with MFT, which made this a tough decision,” said Amanda, “MFT’s work is truly impactful, but ultimately I feel that it’s important to accept this call to serve Maine in this role, and to do all that I can to support a vibrant future for all of our farmers and farmland.”

Under Amanda’s leadership, MFT has made many improvements to the organization’s programs and internal systems. Amanda took the helm at a time when the 20-year-old organization was going through major growth and transition and has worked collaboratively with staff to create stability and sustainability.

MFT has an active transition plan in place, and the board and staff will begin a search for our next President and CEO in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, MFT’s work to protect farmland, support farmers, and advance the future for farming will continue as usual. As we enter our 20th year, we feel excited and confident that the work we’re doing to support a bright future for farming in Maine is on the right track and having a substantial impact now, and for future generations.

Read more about Amanda’s nomination:

Maine Public: Mills Chooses Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Department

Bangor Daily News: Mills makes Maine Farmland Trust leader her final Cabinet pick

Portland Press Herald: Mills taps head of farmland preservation group as agricultural commissioner

 

 

A very special new year: 2019 is our 20th!

In 1999, a small group of farmers and farm advocates planted the seed of an idea: farmland matters, and should be protected. Word spread, meetings were held with like minds, and soon, MFT began as the first and only land trust in the state focused on protecting farmland and supporting farmers. Thanks to the pioneering vision of our founders, the hard work of volunteers and staff, and the support of members, that seed took root and grew! 

This year, we’ll celebrate 20 years of growing the future for farming by reflecting on our milestones over the years, acknowledging the many people who have helped shape MFT, and by looking ahead to the next chapter. We’ll share stories of farmers and members, host some really fun events, organize a listening tour, and more. Most importantly, we want to create opportunities for you to be involved in shaping the next 20 years and beyond.

Together, we can have a lasting and positive impact on the future for farming in Maine.

Visit our anniversary website to keep up on all things 20th, and stay tuned for details about happenings. Be sure to join us for our Kick Off Party in Belfast on January 24th!

In Buxton, an iconic local farm will be a farm forever

Buxton. Snell Family Farm has long been a local institution in the town of Buxton. Now, the farm will remain a farm for generations to come, thanks to the Snell family’s decision to protect the farm with conservation easements through MFT.

Snell Farm is a highly productive diversified farming operation located on both sides of River Road in Buxton. John, Ramona and daughter Carolyn grow produce, herbs, flowers, bedding plants, and fruit for their farm stand, a CSA, and several farmers markets. They also offer pick-your-own raspberries in the summer and apples in the fall. The Snell family is community oriented, and they love growing food and flowers for their long-standing customers.

“We are pleased to be able to contribute to the food and floral independence of our region,” said Ramona Snell.

“Maine Farmland Trust is excited to protect such a thriving farm,” said Charlie Baldwin, a farmland protection project manager at MFT. “Farms like these are a huge asset to the community, and we want to make sure that they remain so far into the future, especially in areas like Buxton with high development pressure.”

MFT has worked with farmers across the state to protect over 60,000 acres of farmland.

Help to protect more acres of farmland by giving HERE.

Many Wins for Maine Farmers in the 2018 Farm Bill

After several months of negotiations, the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee just released a final version of the bill that includes many of MFT’s priorities to better support farmers and farmland protection in Maine. Both the Senate (87-13) and the House ( 369 Y, 47 N, 17 NV) voted to pass the bill.

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Here is how MFT’s priorities for Maine farms fared in the final bill:

1. Maintain both the Senate and House farm bills’ increases in funding for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) to support the placement of agricultural easements in Maine that protect farmland and make land more affordable for the next generation of farmers.

  • Good: The final bill increases funding for ACEP to $450m/year.

2. Maintain the Senate farm bill’s increase in funding for the development of local and regional food economies through the establishment of the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP).

  • Good: the final bill combines the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP) and the Value-Added Producer Grant Program (VAPG) with a new public-private partnership provision, creating LAMP, and provides the program with $50 million per year in mandatory funding.
    • This funding includes $17.5 million per year in mandatory funding for VAPG, $23.5 million per year in mandatory funding for FMLFPP, and $5 million per year for the public-private partnership provision.

3. Maintain the Senate farm bill’s increase in funding for the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP), which provides competitive grants to academic institutions, state extension services, producer groups, and community organizations to support and train new farmers and ranchers.

4. Reduce funding cuts to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) so that farmers have the necessary support to address natural resources concerns on their property while keeping their land in production.

  • Mixed: the final bill increases funding for EQIP and CSP for the 5-year cycle of this farm bill (2019-2023), but includes major funding cuts for these working lands programs over the long term, particularly for CSP.

5. Maintain the Senate and House farm bills’ increase in funding for the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Program to increase access to local fresh fruits and vegetables for SNAP recipients, and expand markets for farmers.

  • Good: the final bill reauthorizes FINI and provides it with $250 million in funding over 5 years.

6. Maintain the Senate farm bill’s Buy-Protect-Sell provision so that lands trusts can act quickly using ACEP-ALE dollars to protect vulnerable farmland and then sell the land to a farmer.

  • Good: the final bill contains a Buy-Protect-Sell provision.

7. Maintain the Senate farm bill’s increase in funding for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), which supports research projects that address the most critical challenges facing organic farmers.

  • Good: the final bill increases OREI funding to $50 million per year in permanent baseline funding by 2023, providing a total of $395 million in funding over 10 years.

8. Maintain the Senate farm bill’s increases in funding levels for Farm Service Agency (FSA) direct and guaranteed loans.

  • Good: the final bill increases funding to $3 billion for FSA direct loans and $7 billion for FSA guaranteed loans for 2019-2023.

 

Many of these important provisions are taken from legislation that was sponsored by Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Maine Senator Susan Collins. We are very grateful to all of Maine’s congressional delegation for their efforts to create a farm bill that works for Maine agriculture, and to all of you who shared your voices with your delegates!

While much of this Farm Bill is a step in a positive direction, there are many challenges ahead. You can help shape the future for farming by making a gift to support our work in Maine! Give here.

2018 Farmland Access & Transfer Conference

2018 marked the fourth year for the Farmland Access & Transfer conference hosted by Land for Good and MFT. The conference is meant for farm seekers, retiring farmers, landowners, and service providers. Attendees learn strategies for keeping their farmland in production; including how to tackle succession planning, how to find and secure farmland of their own, how to negotiate a good lease agreement, and more. This year, the conference welcomed about 150 people, about a quarter of whom were folks looking for farmland.

The conference began with some stories “from the field”. Stacy Brenner, of Broadturn Farm in Scarborough, and BrennaMae Thomas Googins, of Patch Farm in Denmark, shared their personal stories of how these farmers found and gained access to their farmland, and how they intend to transfer it to the next generation. Their insights set the tone for the day and reminded all attendees that the process of finding or transferring land is often intertwined with numerous relationships, finances, and other deeply personal and sometimes challenging topics.

The 2018 Farmland Access & Transfer Conference was made possible by all of our wonderful presenters and our generous sponsors:  American Farmland TrustMaine Harvest Credit UnionDepartment of Agriculture Conservation & ForestryLegal Food HubMaine Organic Farmers and GardenersCultivating CommunityCooperative Development InstituteParis Farmers Union, and Food Solutions New England.

If you attended the conference and would like to provide feedback, please take a minute to take an online evaluation. We’re already looking forward to planning next year’s conference; your feedback about what you liked, what you didn’t, and what we can do better is important to us and will inform next year’s planning efforts.

Here’s what attendees are saying about the conference:

-“This is one of the best conferences I have attended. Really good information that I can immediately put to use, need to research further, need to act on.”

-“My partner and I are already thinking about how we can keep business records to use later in loan paperwork.”

-“My sincere thanks and appreciation for events like these. Networking, information sharing, and continuing education and support is essential to the success of small farms and businesses.”

 
**In case you missed the conference, make sure to watch Stacy Brenner and BrennaMae Thomas Googins’s
plenary stories below!**

4th Annual Farmland Access & Transfer Conference

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:

‘Tis the season: gifts from Maine farms

With so many wonderful Maine-made products, it is easy to continue to support Maine farms throughout the holiday season. Add Maine farm goods to your holiday table and to your gift list! 

A few of our favorites:

  • A CSA share: the gift that keeps on giving all season long. Click here for a list of CSAs in Maine or do a little research to see if farms near you offer CSA shares for veggies, meats, flowers, bread or other local goodies!
  • Oils, soaps, tonics, teas and herbals with ingredients from Maine will help with the long winter. Check out: Herbal Revolution, Mikweed + Moth, Avena Botanicals, & Of the Spirit Herbals.
  • Pick up some Maine-grown and made beer and wine for your holiday parties from Allagash, Rising Tide, Bissell Brothers, Oxbow, Odd Alewives, & Oyster River WinegrowersYou should also consider a jar of really good farm-made Milkhouse eggnog!
  • Maine-made cheese is the perfect addition to any holiday gathering. Look at the map on the Maine Cheese Guild website to find a creamery near you and stock up on cheeses.
  • Add to your holiday meals with some of North Spore‘s mushrooms and the growing kits make a great gift!
  • A canner, or other kitchen gadgets that will help preserve food—so your loved one can enjoy Maine’s bounty year round. Here’s an overview of the products out there.
  • Something to snuggle away the cold winter nights: a cozy sheepskin or wool from your local fiber farmer.
  • Find farm-centric arthatst-shirtschildren’s books, and holiday cards made by local artists in our gallery (97 Main Street in Belfast), or in our online store.
  • Banked time: Because sometimes gardening, food preservation, or putting up a greenhouse requires more than two hands. Write out a gift certificate to wrap up, and throw in a sprig of thyme for fun.
  • Give a gift certificate to spend at the local butcher shop.
  • Looking for something to ship? Many of Maine’s food and farm products last a long time, including jammaple syrupbeeswax candles, and even seaweed (the last two are even carry-on friendly!).
  • Finally, MFT (and other farm-focused organizations) offer gift memberships.  Give someone the knowledge that they have a hand in growing the future of farming. We’ll send them a copy of our beautiful Maine Farms journal, too!

Most importantly, take time to enjoy this time with family and friends during the holidays. Be sure to stock up on all manner of veggies, dairy, meats, etc at your local winter farmers market or local grocer, and give thanks for local bounty, even in the midst of Maine winter!