Creative ways to access land nsas


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  • Seasonal diarywhich means two things: they try to get all the heifers giving birth at the same time each year; and there’s a period of time in the winter when the couple gets a little break, doing no milking at all. The cows are in a constant cycle of having a calf, freshening, lactation, drying off and then giving birth again. It’s a system that requires a tremendous amount of coordination. Calving time begins in earnest in February, which gives the Donegans a relatively quiet December and January, and gives the animals ideal seasons
  • Emily says: “We worked all fall, excavating the barn from 5 year of horse manure, then setting up a tie-stall. We starting off milking into buckets and eventually bought a pipeline system and set that up.”
  • Emily says: “Joe is related to a lot of people, knows a lot of people, and gets along with everyone. He can brush shoulders with the crunchy hippies and the old-time Vermonters. So I think if something ends up working out for us, it will be through personal relationships and working things out, which is how our rental situations all came about.”
  • Erica says: “Lots of wealthy absentee landowners either from D.C. or people who have a tie to the University of Virginia and like to come back 4 days out of the year keep land prices super high because they can’t be outbid - plus horse farmers, a superior view, good quality soil make our part of the country enormously expensive.”
  • The neighbor was willing to let them use the pasture for free because the tax rebates save the landowners several thousand dollars per year even though the cows only graze there part of the year.
  • Erica says: “In the letter we mentioned all of our management intensive practices, rotational grazing techniques, all around awesomeness etc. Serendipitously, Joel’s previous boss was sorority sisters with the wife, and send her a fantastic recommendation about us around the time we sent our letter. Had she not sent that recommendation, they might not have given us the time of day. But we got a call from their landscape architect, and then their legal department, and they wanted to tour the property and discuss the stipulations of their conservation easements and talk about grazing boundaries.”
  • Erica take on land access “it’s possible to buy a farm in lots of other places and if you can get something with reasonable payments and a decent place to live, definitely go that route. But purchasing viable land that is close enough to your market to be feasible is a big challenge. Getting really cheap land far away from town works for some people, but not all. I know lots of farmers who become subject to what I call “farmer burnout” and quit farming, simply by isolating themselves from social outlets and access to other company. Not smart when it comes to a holistic plan, so be careful where you buy.”
  • BeginningYou have experience, grit and passion for agricultureYou don’t have the resources to start your own operation from scratch yet. Land Link connects you with people who can help.RetiringYou want to see your farm passed on to a younger farmer who will maintain your legacyLand Link allows you to present your farm to interested beginners and find the right matchLandownerYou are interested in renting or selling some or all of your land to a beginning farmer.Land Link lets beginners contact you. Many are interested in small parcels – no amount of acres is too small to be included.
  • BeginnerFillnew farmer/rancher applicationLand Link provides land listingsConsider how your goals and needs mesh with those of existing farms and ranches in listingsContact potential partnering landownersLandownerFill out the landowner worksheetLand Link reviews your farm or ranch description and your desired linking relationship with youYour listing goes to the new farmers or ranchersPotential matches contact you
  • New farmer and landowner explore shared interests/goals, meshing needsLand Link staff provides supportExample transfer strategies and working arrangementsLegal resourcesFinancial information and funding sourcesBeginner and landowner negotiate and enact transfer
  • Creative ways to access land nsas

    1. 1. Creative Ways to Access Land Stories and Strategies Healthy Farms Conference February 16, 2012
    2. 2. The Challenges• Cost of land• Finding land available for sale in a desirable location• Accessing financing (especially for smaller, non- conventional operations – new FSA micro-loan program) Iowa set a new farmland price in December, 2011 when a 74-acre tract in Sioux County sold for $20,000 per acre
    3. 3. Working with Challenges• Creativity, tenacity and grit• Need for policy changes to ease entry for beginning farmers and ranchers• Learned to work with Erica Hellen (Free Union Grass Farm, existing challenges Free Union, Virginia)
    4. 4. Farmers who “made it”• Emily and Joe Donegan – Donegan Family Farm, Charlotte, Vermont• Steve and Shelley Lorenz – West Blue Farm, Milford, Nebraska• Erica Hellen and Joe Slezak – Free Union Grass Farm, Free Union, Virginia• Erin Frank – Intern at Branched Oak Farm, Raymond, Nebraska
    5. 5. Donegan Family Farm Emily and Joe Donegan• Seasonal Jersey diary in Charlotte, Vermont• Starting keeping heifers at Joe’s family farm but needed a milking facility to ship milk• “Looked around the neighborhood” for The Donegan’s son, Frankie, defunct diary farms “helping” with chores
    6. 6. Donegan Family Farm • Narrowed down options (milking facility, enough land, place to live) and approached owners • Started renting a farm that only stopped shipping a few months before – equipment, parlor intact • Farmhouse was unlivable so purchased a mobile home andThe Donegan’s Jersey Cow pulled it next to the“Happy” house
    7. 7. Five Years of Horse Manure• Lived at farm for 2 years then approached a neighboring farm about leasing land/barn• Farm stopped milking five before and used barn for horses = 5 years of horse manure• Cleaned up barn, set up tie-stall and moved into farmhouse• Began milking into buckets and purchased a pipeline in 2012• Approached landlords about purchasing the farm and had it appraised but landlords wanted more money than the land was worth
    8. 8. Donegan Family FarmFuture:• No lease – so feel vulnerable.• Plan to do some “door knocking” to aging diary farmers this winter• Key strength: local connections in the Patrick and Frankie Donegan community
    9. 9. West Blue FarmDeb and Dave Welsch and Steve and Shelley Lorenz• Accessed land working closely with the landowners and current farmers• Importance of mentoring, planning and trust• Partnership based Dave and Deb Welsch and Shelley on strengths of each and Steve Lorenz and the Lorenz’ party twin daughters
    10. 10. Free Union Grass Farm Erica Hellen and Joel Slezak• Grassfed beef and pastured pork poultry farm near Free Union, Virginia• Quickly realized that purchasing land in their area is “next to Free Union Grass Farm Logo impossible”
    11. 11. Free Union Grass Farm• Started on 8 acres of pasture owned by Joel’s family• Expanded to 15 acres of usable pasture, with barn for hay storage and reliable well owned by a neighbor – “sold” idea based on tax rebates for keeping land Hay Girrrll – Erica Hellen of in agricultural Free Union Grass Farm production
    12. 12. Free Union Grass Farm Pasture raised duck• Original 8 acres surrounded by land owned by a wealthy absentee landowner – farmers wrote letter asking to use 25 acre pasture• Mutual friend wrote recommendation to landowners
    13. 13. Free Union Grass Farm • Conditions of using 25 acres pasture included purchasing liability insurance and they have to avoid grazing certain areas of the property • Insurance policy isErica moving bales $220/year – cheap compared to a 25 acre lease
    14. 14. Free Union Grass FarmFuture:• Continue acquiring free/cheap land leases from people who are not using their land• Save to purchase a small property in the middle of those properties – build credit by paying mortgage and Joel at the Free Union Farm purchase land Farmers Market Stand
    15. 15. Erin Frank Intern at Branched Oak Farm • Branched Oak Farm certified organic, grass-based dairy specializing in creating farmstead cheeses. • Host interns whoIntern Erin Frank at Branched pursue their ownOak Farm entrepreneurial ideas
    16. 16. Erin Frank•Erin is starting a small CSA at Branched Oak insummer 2013 along with helping out on the diaryand creamery•Previous intern projects include raising hogs,chickens and vegetables
    17. 17. Why Join Land Link?Beginning Farmer• Experience and passion to farm• Need resources to start your own operation• Land Link connects you with people who can help.Retiring Farmer• Want to maintain your farm and legacy• Land Link helps you find the right matchLandowner• Interested in renting or selling any amount of land• Land link helps you find an interested beginner
    18. 18. Linking ProcedureBeginning Farmer Landowner/Retiringor Rancher Farmer or Rancher• Application • Worksheet• Listings • Review• Consider • Listing• Contact • Potential matches contact you
    19. 19. Making a Match • Explore shared interests/goals, meshing needs • Land Link staff provides support • Beginner and landowner negotiate and enact transfer
    20. 20. Additional Resources and Programs for Beginners• High value markets• Advice• Federal programs• Many additional programs and resources listed on our website
    21. 21. Land Link brings together new farmersand established landowners to secure the future of American family farms
    22. 22. Questions? Virginia Meyer 402.687.2100