Farm Seeker Needs Versus Farm Owner Offers
A Comparison and Analysis in the U.S. Midwest and Plains
Keywords:Beginning Farmers and Ranchers, Farm Transfer, Farm Succession, Farm Link, Rural Housing, Rural Development, Small and Medium Farmers
Land access for new farmers and ranchers includes transfers from owners without family successors. We compare how farm seekers’ needs align with the offerings of farm owners whose farm assets may transfer out of family in the 12-state North Central Region as defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In Phase 1, managers of farm link services, which connect farm owners without a successor in their family to farm seekers, estimated the patterns demonstrated by their program’s seeker and owner participants through a questionnaire. In Phase 2, managers of these and select other agricultural and rural programs circulated to their networks an online survey whose respondents included 178 farm seekers and 183 farm owners whose assets may transfer out of family. Findings denote similarities and barriers between the two groups. The biggest difference was that few owners offered an on-farm residence, which was a top need of seekers. In terms of similarities, the survey found no statistical differences in the groups’ respective locations on a rural-urban continuum, nor in land parcel sizes sought and offered. Half of farm link service providers concurred, observing a match between seeker and owner land needs. However, the other half of service providers reported wide differences, observing two patterns. First, incoming farmers preparing for commodity row crop, hay and fodder, and beef production are well-matched by owners with like type farms to offer, although new entrants often seek bigger parcels than owners offer. Second, seekers preparing for specialty crop, dairy, and hog or poultry (outdoor and indoor) production far exceed the number of owners who offer the infrastructure and scale for these production systems, particularly for parcels under 40 acres. Results suggest opportunities for research and intervention to target barriers and areas of alignment between owner and seeker needs, especially for affordable on-farm housing for new farm operators.
 The North Central Region includes the states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
 1 acre= 0.4 hectare
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