Rogue Farm Corps is training the next generation of Oregon farmers and ranchers. But how can we ensure that our graduates and other new farmers have land to farm and viable businesses to acquire when they are ready? And how can we help keep agricultural land in the hands of farmers and ranchers so that it can support Oregon’s economy, rural communities, local food systems and wildlife corridors for generations to come?
RFC’s Farm Preservation Program helps address these issues by educating the public about the expected mass transition of farms and ranches to the next generation. We also help communities develop programs and policies that assist with farm succession and permanent farmland protection.
we are losing farms and farmers every day
Never before in our history has such a small percentage of our population been involved in farming, and never before has so much farmland and so many farm businesses been slated to change hands in the very near future.
America’s farm population shrank from 32 million (or 30% of the population) in 1920, to 2 million (or less than 1%) in 2012. And not only are fewer people farming, but the farm population is aging, with the average age of farmers at 60 - almost retirement age.
In part because the farm population is aging, a recent report co-written by OSU, PSU, and RFC entitled: The Future of Oregon's Agricultural Land, we predict that up to 10.45 million acres of Oregon’s total 16.3 million acres of farmland may change hands in the next 20 years.
But we are facing a new era where fewer family members are ready and willing to fill retiring farmers' shoes, and many beginning farmers are first generation and not in a position to inherit a farm. Yet many Oregon farmers (up to 80% according to the study) don’t have a plan to pass on their business and their land to family members or unrelated farmers when they retire or die. Without a succession plan, a farmer is much less likely to pass on a viable farm businesses to the next generation.
we see a solution
RFC is working with a broad spectrum of organizational partners to encourage farmers and ranchers to plan for succession, to educate professionals (like attorneys) about the succession needs of farmers, and to create programs offering one-on-one farm succession counseling to help farmers deal with the personal and financial aspects of succession planning.
We are also educating farmers and the public about the need and opportunities for preserving the agricultural land base for future generations. And we work with partners to promote tools, like agricultural easements, to permanently protect Oregon farmland. Read this case study to learn how agricultural easements can help farmers generate cash to divide their estate and pass on the farm to the next generation.
For more information about this program, contact Nellie McAdams, Farm Preservation Program Director, firstname.lastname@example.org