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Nearly 1 in 3 farmers across the Great Lakes is over 65 and will likely be transferring their farms in the next 15 years. These farms, and conservation investments on them, are at risk of being converted to real estate development. At the same time, there are important opportunities to promote conservation in successful farm transfers with women increasingly becoming the next generation of farmers and farmland owners and have been underserved by conservation programs.
To increase the effectiveness of long-term conservation practices on farms on a grand scale–and protect Great Lakes water quality–there is an urgent and time-limited opportunity to ensure that senior farmers and landowners successfully transfer their farms and that a new generation of farmers and landowners committed to conservation take their place on the land. AFT proposes to address these challenges by:
- Adapting AFT’s proven Learning Circle model to offer networking and training opportunities about conservation practices and farm transfer planning to women farmers and landowners in Michigan and Wisconsin.
- Offering microgrants to women farmers and landowners in Michigan and Wisconsin to develop and implement farm transfer plans and conservation practices.
- Training a network of 30 ‘navigators’ across Great Lakes states that can support farmers and landowners in pursuing conservation options in farm transfers.
AFT seeks to grow an ever-expanding network of skilled professionals who provide technical assistance to meet growing demands to facilitate farm succession and access to land as well as networks of women farmers and landowners and technical assistance providers who have participated in Learning Circles and Learning Circle trainings and are committed to supporting women in agriculture.
Our goal in this project is to foster and grow a network of Navigators to advance an integrated approach to transitioning farmland and farming practices to improve the ecological health of the Great Lakes while sustaining a viable agricultural economy and communities.
Navigators will play an essential role with women farmers and landowners, senior farmers and landowners, and beginning farmers and landowners. Too often individuals in these groups are faced with complex problems and don’t know the best places to look for help. Navigators can support these audiences in identifying their goals, assessing options, and connecting them with programs, resources, or technical experts to accomplish their goals.
Outreach and Education
50% of farmers/landowners use project resources to pursue land transfer and conservation goals and 50% of trained women, senior and beginning farmers/landowners report increased confidence and knowledge of conservation practices
Evaluation and Assessment
Ag Professionals have a greater awareness of need to take on Navigator roles to improve conservation practices across the basin
Targeted 1:1 Technical Support
Navigator approach scaled for adoption throughout the basin and Navigator Network sustained to make that happen.