Beginning Farmer Resources
A decision to become a farmer or rancher must be thoroughly evaluated, including thoughtful consideration and articulation of personal values, short and long term goals, assets, physical capacity, lifestyle preferences, and farming experience. A successful farmer is resourceful, persistent, and willing to put in long hours to produce agricultural products. Development of a business plan is critically important, although a farmer's ability to succeed is also determined by outside forces, including weather and economic markets.
Consideration of starting to farm could include the following steps:
Accessing land: to purchase or to lease? When considering access to farmland, it is important to consider the pros and cons of leasing compared to purchase. Whether through purchase or lease, secure, long-term land tenure is the foundation of a viable farm. Without long-term tenure, important capital investment to grow and sustain business will be challenging. What assets do you have access to? Are you ready to make a long-term commitment by purchasing land? Can you find a secure, long-term lease arrangement on land that will initially meet your needs? What is your capacity to handle debt? These and many more questions are important to consider when becoming a farmer.
Part of our mission at the conservation district is to support and preserve working farmland on our island. We can connect new farmers with farmland owners who wish to sell, lease, or transfer their farmland to a new farmer who will farm the land. Even if you've already been farming, we can help. A "new farmer" is defined by the United States Department of Agriculture as someone who has farmed for less than 10 years.
Click a Tab Below for More Resources:
Farmland access resources
Starting a Farm
Acquiring Land to Farm
Leasing Land to Farm
Farmland conservation resources
Farm Succession & Transfer
Working with Land Trusts
Many land trusts throughout the country have protected farmland through 1) direct acquisition for future lease to a farmer; 2) purchase then protection through a conservation easement, then resale; and 3) simultaneous purchase together with a farmer, including protection through a conservation easement. Conservation easements may specifically address future farming, or be more general. However, recent studies have shown that agricultural conservation easements do not necessarily ensure that the land is available for future farming.
Center for Rural Affairs
National Sustainable Agriculture Association
National Young Farmers Coalition
USDA Farm Service Agency
top resource organizations
Top Resource Organizations
The following is a list of organizations that offer workshops, resources, and other support for new farmers and farmland owners seeking to transfer their farms. This is not a comprehensive list, as there are many other organizations dedicated tot he goal of sustainable farming, including connecting new farmers to farmland.
Technical Assistance & Farm Plans
If you are a new farmer and would like to find farmland to farm on Whidbey Island, create a farm plan for your property, or address a resource concern, please fill out the form below to get started.