In mid-November, I participated in the Third Drake Forum on America’s New Farmers. Topics presented were: The Impact of the election on new farmers, local food policy and the next Farm Bill; USDA innovation and opportunities to support new and beginning farmers; Retail ag and creating new farming opportunities; Training new farmers and Creating successful incubator and apprenticeship programs; Landowners and new farmers and Bridging the future – The Iowa story; and the Future of new farmer policy: Industry partnerships, Farm Bill programs and local initiatives.
Because the forum was held at Drake University Ag Law Center, I learned a lot about the resources they offer free on their website. Of particular interest to Farm Bureau members was a presentation by Ed Cox, staff attorney at Drake who shared information about retail ag business formation, financing, risk management, food safety, online marketing, intellectual property, water rights/access, and land tenure and access. The Legal Guide for Direct Farm Marketing covers most of these issues. One trend that he has seen is that many small farmers are collaborating with developers to farm land that is slated for development in the future, and that many smaller fields between larger corn and bean fields are being planted and harvested with food crops.
The Sustainable Ag Land Tenure (SALT) Initiative “site is intended to assist landowners and farmers develop farm lease arrangements that are profitable and sustainable for the landowner, the farmer, the community, and the land.” The four primary tools available on this site – The Landowner’s Guide to Sustainable Farm Leasing, Determining Priorities and Exploring Possibilities, The Quick Reference Guide and a Video Library can be found in the Landowner’s Toolbox. The Reference section includes examples of leases from a variety of organizations in different states as well as for pasture, cash crop, crop share, multi-year and a landowner worksheet.
The forum was organized and hosted by Drake University Agricultural Law Center with support and funding from Farm Credit, the Lillian Goldman Charitable Trust, USDA’s Risk Management Agency and DuPont Pioneer.