Growing the next generation of young farmers
Sow seeds for farming's future
Virginia Farm Link Program
The Virginia Farm Link program is designed to help two important segments of the commonwealth’s farm community:
- Farmers and landowners who are facing retirement and want to see their businesses continue and their land stay in production; and
- Beginning and expanding farmers who are in search of business arrangements through which they can acquire land, equipment, experience and access to the knowledge of seasoned producers.
As established in § 3.2-202 of the Code of Virginia, the Virginia Farm Link program shall provide, but not be limited to the following: (i) assistance in the preparation of business plans for the transition of business interests; (ii) assistance in the facilitation of transfers of existing properties and agricultural operations to interested buyers; (iii) information on innovative farming methods and techniques; and (iv) research assistance on agricultural, financial, marketing, and other matters.
Virginia Farm Link Database
In 2003, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) worked with the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation to develop an online database designed to bring those landowners interested in passing the land on to the next generation together with those interested in gaining access to farmland and farming operations in Virginia. Farm Bureau agreed to host the online database until such time that VDACS was able to take back the operation of the database.
The Farm Link database was moved from Farm Bureau back to VDACS in May 2008 and made available for public use at that time. As part of this transition, VDACS also took the opportunity to revise the database functions and change the application process to make it much easier for farm seekers and farm owners to complete and to update. Please click here for more information regarding the Farm Link database.
Please click here to view a PowerPoint presentation outlining the Virginia Farm Link database.
Farm Link and Transition Pilot Workshops
In November 2010, OFP began meeting with members of the Virginia Farm Bureau Young Farmers (VAFBYF) to discuss opportunities to better address the initial duties established for the Virginia Farm Link program. As a result of this initial meeting, VAFBYF established an ad-hoc sub-committee to work with OFP to enhance the effectiveness of the Virginia Farm Link program.
VAFBYF and OFP agreed to collaborate on a series of three pilot workshops from August 2011 to August 2012 designed to enhance relationships between farm seekers and farm owners while exploring key steps to successful farm transitioning. Additional workshops are expected during 2013.
Certified Farm Seeker Program
OFP and the Young Farmers Committee also partnered to develop a proposal for a Farm Seeker Certification program as part of a sub-award funding opportunity tied to the larger Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition Project (BFRCP) led by Virginia Tech. The Farm Seeker Certification process was officially unveiled at the Virginia Farm Bureau Young Farmers Summer Expo July 27-29, 2012 in Lynchburg. The new program uses the five curriculum modules (whole farm planning introduction, business, land acquisition and tenure, marketing, and on-farm experience) developed by BFRCP and will help farm seekers develop a farm business plan and resume, as well as demonstrate on-farm experience. The program is being designed to help all levels of beginning and experienced young farmers who are looking to farm or to expand their farm. The program also plans to provide significant incentives to certified farmer seekers including the following: enhanced profile/visibility on the Virginia Farm Link database; invitations to additional social events for farm owners and certified farm seekers arranged by Virginia Farm Bureau; and professional review of submitted business plans or cost-share for attorney/mediator fees incurred as part of the farm transition. Please click here for more information.
Farm Transition Resources
OFP also developed a Farm Transition Resources webpage containing farm transition information from across the country. Please click here for more information regarding the Farm Transition Resources webpage.
Please contact the Virginia Farm Link program at 804.786.1346 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Additional Farmland Preservation Information and Technical Assistance:
Virginia: Kevin Schmidt, Coordinator, OFP
Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
102 Governor Street, Richmond, VA 23219
804.786.1346 • Fax: 804.371.7786
National: Farmland Information Center
a partnership of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and American Farmland Trust (AFT).