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Program Connects Retiring Farmers with New Farmers

Millions of Transition Incentives Program dollars are available to connect retiring farmers with beginners who need land to produce crops. Courtesy Michael Fields Agricultural Institute.
Millions of Transition Incentives Program dollars are available to connect retiring farmers with beginners who need land to produce crops. Courtesy Michael Fields Agricultural Institute.
July 6, 2015

EAST TROY, Wis. – Millions of dollars are being made available through the Transition Incentive Program (TIP) to connect retiring farmers with new farmers. The program is intended to help solve a persistent problem among new farmers seeking access to available farmland.

David Andrews, executive director of the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in East Troy, says he wholeheartedly supports TIP for a variety of reasons.

"The average age of farmers is roughly 60 years old," says Andrews. "There's going to be a whole generation retiring in the next few years, and it's a way to increase the number of farmers rather than just allowing farms to continue to get bigger."

Andrews says TIP is already making a difference in several states, but is still underused. The Michael Fields Agricultural Institute has information on how retiring farmers and beginning farmers can access the program at www.michaelfields.org.

According to Andrews, TIP has a number of additional benefits, including the program's direct impact on supporting local economies. He says maintaining a solid base of smaller farms, rather than fewer giant farms, has a real impact.

"What's happened over the last 20, 25 years is farms have gotten bigger," he says. "There aren't as many kids, so the schools don't thrive, the communities don't thrive, and these small villages scattered around the Midwest are fast disappearing."

Andrews says many young people want to get into farming, but have difficulty affording the land it requires. TIP connects those who are retiring from farming with those who want to get into it – a goal Andrews says "just makes sense."

"It does work well, especially for a retiring farmer, and especially since the increase in land prices," he says. "It's very difficult for a new farmer, or a young farmer or veteran, to get started in farming."

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI