University of Vermont

The Farm LASTS Project Online Manual

FarmLAST: About the Project

I. About the FarmLASTS Project

The FarmLASTS (FarmLand Access, Succession, Tenure and Stewardship) project was implemented by a national, multi-disciplinary team led by project directors Robert Parsons (University of Vermont) and Kathryn Ruhf (Land For Good). Three working groups--research, education, and outreach--were organized, and consulting experts from around the U.S. also participated in project activities. In addition, the project utilized the expertise from farmer and professional advisory committees. While each working group had its own activities, the project's integrated approach assured that findings flowed across teams and out to farmers, ranchers, service providers, and policymakers.

Why This Project Is Important

The future of U.S. agriculture depends on the ability of new generations to establish successful farms and ranches. One of the biggest challenges to entry is gaining access to affordable and secure land. At the same time, older farm operators face unprecedented complexities as they prepare to exit farming. An estimated 70 percent of U.S. farmland will change hands in the next twenty years. This includes land owned by farmers as well as non-farming landlords who rent to farm operators. There are multiple challenges in farm entry, exit, tenure relationships and succession. Traditional methods are no longer adequate to meet these challenges. Farm and ranch land access and transfer are particularly important for small and medium-size farms and ranches that currently control over 80 percent of U.S agricultural land. In the balance are the quality of life and economic vitality in agricultural communities and the use, protection and enhancement of the nation's working lands.

Education Group

Charles Steiner (University of Wisconsin/Platteville) led the Education team that included Robin Kohanowich (Central Carolina Community College) and Jen Taylor (School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers, University of Wisconsin/Madison). The team created an agricultural land tenure curriculum for beginning farmers and farmland seekers that included two modules: 1)farmland tenure and acquisition, and 2) tenancy and landlord-tenant relations. The curriculum can be found in Section III. Agricultural Land Tenure Curriculum.

Outreach Group

Dave Goeller (University of Nebraska Extension); Deb Heleba (University of Vermont Extension); Savi Horne (Land Loss Prevention Project, NC); and Steve Schwartz (California Farm Link) worked with Kathy Ruhf and Winton Pitcoff to coordinate outreach activities including the national Changing Lands, Changing Hands conference held in June 2009. Proceedings from the conference can be found in Section IV. The outreach group also reached out to the press and other media outlets, including giving a presentation as part of the USDA's Family Farm Forum.

This integrated, 2.5-year project was supported by USDA/CSREES through a National Research Initiative grant #2007-02807 to the University of Vermont.


Last modified March 14 2011 02:07 PM

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