COLUMBUS, Ohio - Beginning farmers in Ohio can struggle to acquire property for production, and it's sometimes difficult for aging farmers to find someone who will continue the legacy of their land.
However, a new tool might help both find the right match.
is an online resource that connects farm seekers with landowners who want to sell or lease their land, or find a business partner.
Rachel Tayse is program coordinator for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association's Begin Farming Program, which just launched the site. She says her organization is hoping to simplify the land-transfer process, and keep viable farming land in production.
"Elder farmers oftentimes have put a lot of effort into building their farm and they don't want to see that lost with putting the farm up on the market where it might get bought for future development, and oftentimes they are not connected socially with beginning farmers," she states.
Tayse says at the same time, beginning farmers may find it difficult to finance farm land.
HeartlandFarmLink.org is a free service, and visitors can search posted profiles and access resources to support successful farmland transfer.
The average age of farmers in the state is 58, and 10% of small farmers exit agriculture each year.
Tayse says helping new sustainable farmers successfully enter and thrive in their businesses is crucial for the future of Ohio farming.
"We need beginning farmers to learn from that elder generation and get onto the land so that we can continue to produce food and particularly producing it in sustainable way that addresses some of the water quality issues and climate change issues that Ohio is facing," she stresses.
Profiles on Heartland FarmLink are primarily farmers from Ohio, but Tayse says farmers and land seekers from nearby states are also welcome.
OEFFA also provides assistance with the land-transfer process, including land assessment and help with conservation, legal and financial options.