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Goal: The goal of the network is to support programs that foster the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
The Need: The economic future of the nation's agriculture depends on the ability of a new generation to enter farming. The barriers faced by the next generation are creating a crisis in agriculture.
Challenges to farm entry include:
The Network believes that programs that help create the opportunity for young people to begin a career in agriculture, particularly by addressing farm access, must be part of the government's rural development effort.
Network response to date:
- Insufficient farm entry strategies
- Insufficient farm succession and and retirement strategies
- Inability to acquire the initial capital investment
- Difficulty in identifying viable farm entry opportunities
- Difficulty in obtaining appropriate financial, managerial, and production assistance for the entering and exiting parties
- Lack of appropriate community support
- Developed programs that link retirement and farm exit approaches with farm entry strategies. Programs representing at least twenty states have established Farm Link programs to "link" beginning and retiring farmers. The majority of these programs lack funding to meet demand. Many of these programs provide seminars and consultations that assist farmers in discovering ways to successfully transition viable farm businesses from one generation to the next. Although the desire to enter farming remains strong (i.e. with program ratios of beginning/retiring farmer inquiries running as high as 10:1), the barriers to entry remain formidable. All participating programs agree that one-on-one technical assistance and resource information and referral are essential. Some programs also use "how-to" regional and statewide workshops on farm succession and other beginning and exiting farmer issues.
- Developed new transition and tenure strategies which facilitate the entry of the next generation and the exit of the existing farmer. These strategies are regionally appropriate and respond to the unique needs of the full range of existing farmers and land owners.
- Network development: The National Farm Transition Network holds annual conferences with the goal of sharing information, strengthening existing programs and helping to establish new programs. It maintains a web site and list serve.
IFTN Website: http://www.farmtransition.org/