In the next two decades, it is predicted that 400 million acres of U.S. farmland will change hands. What happens to that land when it reaches the market is crucial to the future of our food system, and current trends point in the wrong direction. The price of land in the U.S. has skyrocketed in the past decade, driven by an unregulated, speculative marketplace, international investment, a distorted subsidy system, and by unrestrained development pressure.
In this crucial moment of land transition, a new generation of farmers has emerged. The demand for organic food is strong and growing, and with a changing climate, the urgency for restoration, ecological stewardship, and conservation is becoming more evident. Yet the majority of young farmers and beginning farmers of all ages struggle with land access, affordability, and tenure. The price of farmland is not justified by the profitability of the farming business, stacking the odds against today’s incoming agrarians.
We need to chart the way forward. We need to hold our precious farmland in a trust for its best uses: sustainable food production and collective, ecological stewardship. We must also help the incoming organic leadership build on the legacy of our organic elders, many who have been farming for more than 30 years, and keep organic land in production. We need to support the stakeholders engaged in complex land succession, with all the accounting, estate planning, retirement planning and legal and technical assistance that is necessary. We need a national conversation that leads to action and traction for sustainable farming at the foundation of a new, just and equitable economy. Finally, we need policy reform to strengthen democratic ownership and control of our nation’s farmland.
Agrarian Trust’s Goals:
Build the issue (of land access) and reframe the solution through public symposia, collaborative advocacy campaigns, and stakeholder meetings.
Support the network of stakeholders and service providers through collection and documentation of innovative models for land access. Create a comprehensive resource portal to pool the useful tools already developed.
Build the Agrarian Land Trust local agrarian commons to hold farmland to ensure its sustainable and productive stewardship for generations to come.