BROOKINGS, S.D. - According to the USDA 2017 Census of Agriculture, approximately 30% of South Dakota farmers and ranchers are 65 years of age or older. Additionally, one in four producers is a beginning farmer with 10 or fewer years of experience. Due to the challenge of finding farmland, new producers often tend to smaller than average operations, in terms of both acres and value of production.
"Whether renting or purchasing, securing access to farmland continues to be a major barrier for newcomers and is preventing a generation of growers and producers from entering the industry,” said Heather Gessner, SDSU Extension Livestock Business Management Field Specialist.
Following a widely attended 2020 and 2021 workshop series on these issues, a third year of the program will be held for individuals with some farming or ranching experience who are actively looking for land.
The eight-week Farmland for the Next Generation Program will kick off Sept. 1 and run every Thursday through Oct. 20 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. CDT.
The workshop series will be held in an interactive webinar format that includes discussions, worksheets and ongoing evaluation of each participant's current situation. Topics covered throughout the program will include an introduction to land tenure, financial readiness, land tenure options, finding land, land assessment, leasing land, purchasing land and succession planning.
“This program is hands-on, so participants will go out and apply what they learn during these sessions and then report back throughout the series," said Gessner.
Gessner was one of the 25 experienced agricultural educators and service providers across the country in the inaugural class of Land Access Trainers. She is presenting the series as components of the American Farmland Trust's Farmland for the Next Generation project.
Registration cost is $50 for two individuals. Those interested in participating should register by Aug. 25 on the SDSU Extension Events webpage.
The Farmland for the Next Generation Program is supported by a grant from the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.