Farmland Access Program
Connecting Farmers with Affordable Farmland
Gaining access to good, affordable farmland is one of the hardest tasks for beginning farmers. This is especially true for businesses that depend on being near economic growth centers, where land is more expensive. As the farming population ages, more farms will be on the market, increasing the threat to the future of Vermont’s economy.
In 2004 we created the Farmland Access Program to help entrepreneurial farmers find affordable farms of their own.
Since then, we have helped nearly 40 farmers. Most of these farmers were able to buy their first farm after years of leasing land. Many were also able to expand their businesses. See some of their stories here.
How do we do this?
Every farm and farmer is unique, so we have been creative and flexible in our approach, but here are some the ways we have succeeded:
- We buy a farm at risk of development and ask for business proposals from farmers interested in buying the land. We then sell the farm at an affordable price to the farmer with the plan best suited to the land. At the time of sale, we place a conservation easement on the land for which we receive funding from public and/or private sources. The conservation easement permanently limits development and other uses detrimental to farming.
- We work with a retiring farmer to find a new farmer who would be a good match for his/her land. If the land is not conserved, we will secure money for the purchase of a conservation easement, which will offset the sale price to the new farmer.
- We keep a list of people who are looking for farms and contact them when we learn of opportunities. Sometimes these people contact us if they find a farm they would like to buy. If possible, we then may work to purchase a conservation easement, which helps offset the cost of the land for the farmer.
- We work with farmers to evaluate land opportunities, facilitate farm transactions, and help with the purchasing process. We also help secure business-planning services through the Farm Viability Program of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board.
Who qualifies for the program?
Candidates must have three years of farming experience, strong farming references, plans to develop an agricultural enterprise that would gross $100,000 per year within five years of start up, and financial resources (or the ability to be financed) for start-up expenses. We focus on farms producing food and/or fiber that would use at least 25 acres of productive land.
How Do I Sign up?
Are there any farms for sale now?
Check out our property for sale page to see if there are any offerings.