SALEM, Ohio – He’s a farmer looking for land. She’s a farmer who can’t get in the fields anymore.
In a perfect world, the two might work out some kind of special arrangement. She could agree to a partnership with the young farmer; he could promise to keep the land in agriculture.
The only problem? It’s hard to find a perfect stranger who shares your goals for a piece of land.
Get together. Buying land can be frustrating for beginning farmers and selling land can be heartbreaking for those ready to get out. But a program at The Farmland Center
in northeastern Ohio is making it easier for farmers – young and old – to get what they want.
The center’s FarmLink program matches land buyers who want to farm with land sellers who want to see their property remain farmland.
Anyone can enroll in the program and applicants specify what they’ve got or what they want. Things like location, soil type, buildings on the property, size and past farming practices play a role in getting the buyers and seller matched up.
Make a connection. The center screens the applicants and gives compatible parties the chance to get in touch. After that, it’s up to the applicants.
“We kind of see ourselves as more of connectors,” said Beth Knorr, assistant coordinator at The Farmland Center.
Some common arrangements are standard sales, long-term leases and partnerships.
“That’s really up to what the two parties are interested in doing,” Knorr said.
The center has already made some progress with the program, making a few matches last year.
The Farmland Center’s program, which focuses on northeast Ohio, is modeled after other FarmLink programs around the country. Knorr said about a dozen people looking for land contacted the center during the past year, but only half that many sellers offered their property to the program.
Helpful tool. According to Knorr, the program benefits buyers and sellers. Young farmers have another tool to find suitable land and farmers looking to get out of the business can feel confident their fields won’t become freeways.
“Keeping our farmland in farming is the major benefit,” Knorr said.
Starting this spring, those interested in FarmLink will be able to search the center’s Web site for land that’s available and land that’s desired.
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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