It's Hard to Get Into Farming, and It's Hard to Transition Out of Farming. We're Here to Help. - American Farmland Trust

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It’s Hard to Get Into Farming, and It’s Hard to Transition Out of Farming. We’re Here to Help.

Tim Biello and farmers stand in pasture

When I started working at American Farmland Trust in 2014, we were just launching the Hudson Valley Farmlink Network to connect farmers with farmland in New York’s Hudson Valley. I had farmed for the previous eight years, putting in the work and learning and gaining management experience, and I was in the process of searching for a farm of my own. So, I began at AFT by drawing on my experiences and those of my farming peers, as well as the research done by AFT, to help other farmers in seeking land.

But finding a farm is much easier said than done. Over the past six years, I’ve fielded thousands of calls from farmers and farmland owners. Some of these interactions were with senior farmers who were challenged with transferring their farms and keeping them in agriculture. Some were with non-operating landowners who want to conserve their farm or lease it to a farmer. Many have been with new and beginning farmers looking to get started and facing challenges similar to the ones I’ve faced – being the first generation in their family to farm, lacking access to sufficient capital, and struggling to secure tenure, among other barriers.

Working with the Hudson Valley Farmlink Network gave me the opportunity to provide one-on-one assistance to farmers and farmland owners in overcoming these challenges, and to pull in the expertise and resources of our Network Partners within the region to help them as well. Our farmland finder website allows farmers and landowners to create profiles to connect with one another, with farmers listing their experience and criteria for land and tenure, and landowners listing their properties and options to lease or purchase. They can also find events and online resource guides, special opportunities such as grants, and contact information for AFT and Network Partners.

Then in 2018, as a testament to the success of the network, we were funded to expand this model statewide. This new program, Farmland for a New Generation New York, is operated in partnership with the state of New York and a network of 27 Regional Navigators who provide direct support to farmers and farmland owners. In its first two years, AFT and Regional Navigators helped more than 50 farmers find land in New York state, adding to the more than 200 farmers we’ve connected with land in the Hudson Valley since 2014!

While working with AFT to support other farmers, I was also continuing with my own farming plans. My wife and I made a unique lease-to-own arrangement in Saratoga County in 2015. Over the next few years, I was able to conserve the farm with an agricultural conservation easement, which permanently ensures it will be available to farmers and for farming, all while developing my farm business, Featherbed Lane Farm. And in the fall of 2020, we purchased the property! It took me 10 years, from beginning my search to launching my farm business, to buying our farm. No doubt about it, it was a team effort. I worked hard, and still do every day, but I could not have done it by myself. No one can. That’s why having a network of support for farmers and farmland owners is so important.

We often tell folks “it’s hard to get into farming, and it’s hard to get out of farming,” particularly while keeping the land in agriculture. If you’re at either end of this journey, or even somewhere in the middle, we’re here to help.

Find or Lease Farmland in New York

Farmland for a New Generation New York helps farmers seeking land and landowners wanting to keep their land in farming. On this website, you can register to post a farmer or a farm property profile, search for farmers or search for farmland, learn about upcoming events, browse resources, and contact organizations throughout New York State.

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About the Author
Tim Biello

New York Program Specialist


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