Finding Farms - About
In the past, farmers typically got onto farms within their families or in their own farming community. Today, many farmers need to look more widely to find farms. The resurgence in farming and increase in new farmers requires that farm seekers develop thoughtful, creative and thorough plans to find and assess farm properties. Finding a farm results from hard work and planning. It is not an event; it is a process.
It may be useful to think about the farm search process in four steps:
- Decide what you are looking for
- Develop and implement a search plan
- Evaluate potential properties
- Decide, and negotiate the transaction
Challenges may arise in your search for land. You will be much more successful if you anticipate these challenges and find ways to address them. The importance of knowing what you want in a farm and what compromises you are willing to make may seem obvious, but all too often, eager farmers wind up on a property that doesn’t work for them.
You may find that land prices are out of reach, and that you are competing with developers or other farmers for land. You may find that your business planning doesn’t adequately address land acquisition. You may need to revise your business plan to fit the property you have found.
Every situation is unique. Your requirements and preferences are different from those of any other farmer. The skills, knowledge and resources you bring to your search are also unique to you. Build on those strengths and get help with the other areas. Regardless, along the way you will need to:
- Prepare for the questions that landowners and others will ask.
- Promote yourself. You’re not just looking to buy or rent land; you are looking to start or build your business. People will want to know about you and your plans, especially if you are looking to use their land to implement your plans.
- Stay flexible and persevere. It’s unlikely that you will find your “perfect farm.” You will need to be flexible and be willing to compromise on a farm’s location or features. You’ll need to be creative when matching the farms you’re considering - possibly several - with your business plan.
Within this course, you may want to revisit the Holding Land: the Basics section for reminders on options and approaches to gaining security, equity and legacy that both leasing and ownership can offer.
Links to further resources
Land For Good: Helps farm-seekers in New England, with farm searches and assessments.
Finding Farmland: A useful article from the New England Small Farm Institute
Farm Newspapers with Listing Farm Properties for Sale, such as Country Folks
Farm Real Estate Brokers: While conventional real estate brokers list farms for sale, most active farms are considered commercial property and are listed by real estate agents specializing in farm transactions. MLS Residential Search may list small and medium farms and properties with farmable acreage.
Finding Land to Farm: A compilation of links nationwide.
Farm Credit: A farmer-owned cooperative agricultural lender. In New England visit Farm Credit East, Yankee Farm Credit and Farm Credit of Maine. In addition to lending, Farm Credit may provide business planning assistance, appraisal services and related services.
Farm Service Agency: Real Estate for Sale - Listing of homes and farms for sale by the Farm Service Agency, many available with low interest financing
Land and Farm: Rural property listing service
Farm Land Search: Online listings of farms for sale.
Land Directory: Rural property listing service
United Country Real Estate; Rural real estate brokerage
National Water and Climate Center - Resources on rainfall, growing season and other climate information. Part of the USDA National Resource and Conservation Service website.
State Soil Surveys - Contact information to request soil maps for the counties you are interested in. Maps for some states are available as downloadable file.