AMES, Iowa – For many farmers both established and beginning, farming is about building a legacy to last generations. This makes finding a successor a key part of any transition plan, which can be a challenge. Alternatively, starting that legacy can be equally challenging. Beginning farmers face barriers to entry including access to farmland, equipment and other key parts of farm infrastructure.
To help address these challenges, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Beginning Farmer Center created AgLink, a platform that helps to facilitate the transition of farming operations from established farmers to beginning farmers.
According to Kitt Tovar Jensen, staff attorney with the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation at Iowa State University and manager of the Beginning Farmer Center, the program is completely user-led and allows beginning or established farmers and landowners to build connections on a person-to-person basis.
“On one hand, finding a farm successor can be difficult if there isn’t a family member to take over, and, on the other hand, finding the right opportunity to get into farming can be just as difficult for beginning farmers. Recognizing these challenges, we created this platform as a resource for these two groups of people to connect with the right opportunities for them,” said Tovar Jensen.
In addition to connecting beginning farmers with established farmers looking to find a successor, AgLink can help connect beginning farmers with other opportunities, according to Tovar Jensen.
“It’s not just for those looking to purchase or sell land,” she explained, “it’s also for those looking for or advertising all sorts of farm opportunities, such as on-farm employment, machinery leases and sales and other traditional or non-traditional farming opportunities. There’s a wide range of opportunities for those from diverse agricultural backgrounds.”
To get started, potential AgLink users will submit an application which includes questions about the general location and type of farming opportunity being sought or advertised. Staff will then review the application. Upon approval, users can use AgLink to post opportunities, search opportunities and start a conversation.
“For increased privacy, AgLink will only share basic information submitted; for example, the county of a farm opportunity rather than a specific address,” added Tovar Jensen. “After that initial application is approved, it’s up to the individual to reach out to other users through AgLink and decide when they are comfortable sharing their personal contact information.”
While AgLink offers a great venue to make connections, Tovar Jensen reminds users to be patient while waiting for the right opportunity to come along.
“AgLink is a wonderful opportunity to see what opportunities are out there, build connections and start that conversation,” she explained. “Put your best foot forward with an application and be open and flexible to diverse opportunities.”