Celebrating Five Years of Bringing Together Farmers and Farmland Owners in New York’s Hudson Valley - American Farmland Trust

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Celebrating Five Years of Bringing Together Farmers and Farmland Owners in New York’s Hudson Valley

Five years is 
a short time to go a long way.

It’s half a decade full, the difference between welcoming a new child and sending them off to kindergartenThis fall, American Farmland Trust is celebrating the big “five” for the Hudson Valley Farmlink Network. When it launched in 2014, the Hudson Valley Farmlink Network brought an innovative and comprehensive approach to tackling the challenge of keeping land in farming and farmers on the land across 13 counties in New York. The website connects farmers and landowners, provides access to events, and offers resources for farmers seeking to find or transfer farmland, as well as farmland owners who want to keep their land in farming.  

The Network evolved out of the glaring major demographic changes threatening agriculture as aging farmers approach retirement. When transitions of farmland from one generation to the next are on the horizon, that’s when the land is most vulnerable to development. 

According to the Census of Agriculture, approximately one third of farmers in New York are 65 or older, a majority of whom do not have a known successor to take over once they retire from the land.  Recent research from American Farmland Trust showed notable trends among non-operating landowners, too, whose median is 65. Though 95% see “keeping land in farming” as a primary motivation for land management decisions20% do not know who the next owner of their farmland will be.  

At the same time, new and beginning farmers looking for an opportunity to farm face tremendous obstacles to finding appropriate farmland at prices they can afford. Those factors increase significantly for farmers who face systemic, cultural, language, and financial barriers to find suitable land and resources.     

These shifts are a big deal in a state like New York where agriculture serves as the backbone of rural communities and helps to feed millions of New Yorkers but has already lost more than 5,000 farms to development.  

The critical task of ensuring the availability of farmland for all farmers, now and into the future, is not one that can be tackled alone. Knowledge of local needs and conditions paired with expertise in land conservation, agricultural support services, legal and other technical counsel, among other areas, ensures farmers and farmland owners receive the support they need while professional capacity continues to grow in the region.  

Coordinated by AFT with primary support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Hudson Valley Farmlink Network is rooted in partnership, building upon a strong and growing professional network of organizations while providing shared resources through the Hudson Valley Farmland Finder website.  

The impact these partners have had over the past five years has demonstrated the potential of a collective and sustained effort. Over that time, the Network and its partners have helped more than 175 farmers find and secure farmland in the Hudson Valley. Furthermore, they have trained nearly 10,000 farmers and farmland owners through events and personalized assistance. We are so grateful for this leadership and partnership.  

Thanks to the success of the Hudson Valley Farmlink Network, American Farmland Trust launched, in partnership with the state of New York, Farmland for a New Generation New York. Launched one year ago, the statewide program is modeled after the collaboration in the Hudson Valley and includes a comprehensive website with farmer and farmland listings along with a professional network of Regional Navigators.  

It’s been five years of growing, learning, and impact, and the team here in New York wanted to express deep gratitude for how far the Hudson Valley Farmlink Network has come and for the opportunities that lie ahead. We extend incredible gratitude to the Network partners, past and present, listed belowHere’s to another five years – and beyond! 

Hudson Valley Farmlink Network Partners 2014-19

Thank you to all of our partners that have played such a pivotal role in helping to make real-world connections between farmers and landowners in New York's Hudson Valley.

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About the Author
Erica Goodman

Farms for a New Generation Director

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