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Escalating farmland prices present barrier for new farmers, ranchers
The cost of land continues to rise. With record-setting land sales of $20,000 per acre in some parts of the country, land ownership is out of reach for most beginning farmers and ranchers.
High commodity prices, increased farm income, farm and crop insurance subsidies, and low interest rates all play major roles in driving up land costs. Moreover, a Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago survey indicates banks require greater collateral for beginners to borrow money.
High land values benefit landowners who are selling, but diminish opportunities for beginning farmers. Access to affordable land and capital has been a barrier to beginners for years. Dramatic increases in land costs and tighter lending requirements make the climb even steeper.
At the Center for Rural Affairs’ Land Link program, we hear from discouraged beginning farmers and ranchers every day. We created that program to help connect beginners with landowners and retiring farmers and ranchers and find solutions to the challenges they face in getting started. Some beginners, in order to overcome high land costs, raise vegetables, fruits, or livestock that require less land, more labor, and result in higher profits per acre than commodity crops.
Moreover, communities can forge conversations and link the generations, helping landowners leave a legacy rather than just selling to the highest bidder.
Creating opportunity for the next generation requires policy reforms and engaged rural communities because the success of our small towns depends on the success of the next generation of farmers and ranchers around it.
Wolking is a staff member of the Center for Rural Affairs who works on health care, rural development, and farm policy issues. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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