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Gain skills to secure farmland, tackle succession planning & more at the Farmland Access & Transfer Conference

Maine Farmland Trust and Land For Good will host the fifth annual Farmland Access & Transfer Conference on November 18, 2019 at the Augusta Civic Center in Augusta ME. At the day-long conference, farmers will learn strategies for tackling succession planning, participate in conversations about equity and affordability, gain the skills to find and secure farmland of their own, negotiate a good lease agreement, and more.

Plenary panelists include Maria Girouard, Maine- Wabanaki REACH & Penobscot Nation,

Rachel Talbot Ross, State Representative (D, Portland),

Sass Linneken, Resources for Organizing and Social Change (ROSC).

Conference includes a plenary panel, Land Justice: Acknowledging Our Past, Changing Our Future, organized by Land in Common, and breakout sessions led by farmers and service providers from across the region that cover a wide range of topics—from transferring a business to creating an agricultural lease, urban agriculture, and the importance of farm succession planning.

Nearly 30% of New England’s farmers are likely to exit farming in the next 10+ years, and 9 out of 10 of them are farming without a young farmer alongside them,” explains Jim Hafner, Executive Director at Land For Good and co-host of the conference, referring to a recent study (Gaining Insights). “While this does not mean that these farmers don’t have a succession plan, it does suggest the future of many of these farms is uncertain. And at the same time, access to land remains one of the biggest challenges for beginning farmers in New England.”

Today’s farmers—including 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. Farmers can also make valuable connections at this conference. Last year, the conference brought together over 130 established and beginning farmers, landowners, and agricultural service providers.

The issues, strategies, skills, and discussions shared at this conference have relevance far beyond Maine,” says Hafner.

This is the largest conference in the region focused solely on land access and transfer. Across New England, farmers worry about how they will transfer their land while others worry about how they will establish equitable and affordable access to land.

The conference is geared toward farm seekers, retiring farmers, and land owners to help them better understand the options, resources, and steps to accessing or transferring farms or farmland. This year’s conference will also feature content, including panel discussions, of interest to service providers and other farm advocates as well as others with an interest in fostering affordable and equitable farmland access.

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 and who will have the opportunity to farm it in the future?” explains Erica Buswell, Vice President of Programs for Maine Farmland Trust and co-host of the conference. “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 aspiring farmland owners and make land available and affordable for all.”

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 Maine Harvest Credit Union, Agrarian Trust, BCM Environmental & Land Law, Conservation Law Foundation, Greenhorns, Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association, Farm Credit East, Land In Common, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Cooperative Development Institute, and American Farmland Trust. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available.

The deadline to register is November 13, 2019. Cost of attendance is $15 per person and includes a lunch sourced from local farmers and producers. For more information or to register, go to mainefarmlandtrust.org/access-2019.

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Maine Farmland Trust (MFT) is a member-powered statewide nonprofit organization working to protect farmland, support farmers, and advance the future for farming. Since its founding in 1999, MFT has helped to protect over 60,000 acres of Maine’s precious farmland, linked more than 200 new and established farmers to the land they need to grow, and supported more than 800 farming families in growing strong businesses. More at mainefarmlandtrust.org.

Land For Good (LFG) is a New England-wide not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the future of farming in the region by putting more farmers more securely on more land. With field agents based in and serving all New England states, LFG educates, consults, innovates and advocates with and for farm seekers, established farmers, farmland owners, and communities. LFG is the only organization of its kind nationally with a sole focus on farmland access, transfer, and tenure. More at landforgood.org

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