The New Jersey Farmland Advisors program is launching after two years of planning and collaboration with AFT, NJ Land Trust Network and others studying what works in other states and how it can be replicated in the Garden State. 

New farmers face substantial barriers in New Jersey, especially when it comes to finding land. New Jersey has the second highest farmland prices in the nation, making it difficult for beginning farmers to find suitable land at a price they can afford.  And, opportunities to lease appropriate farmland under secure conditions can often be difficult to find.

Farm transfers within or outside a family can also be complicated due to family, business, legal and tax hurdles. During this transition, farms can be at high risk of being lost to real estate development.

More than two years ago, the Foodshed Alliance partnered with American Farmland Trust (AFT) to explore replicating a very success program AFT established in the Hudson Valley. The Hudson Valley Farmlink Network, is a partnership of 15 organizations, coordinated by AFT, offering the Hudson Valley Farmland Finder website, training and networking events, and one-on-one assistance for farmers and landowners. The Hudson Valley Farmlink Network has helped more than 130 farmers find land across a 13-county region in New York.

Thanks to support from the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Farmland Advisors New Jersey program is being launched in partnership with AFT, Foodshed Alliance, Duke Farms, Farm Credit East, Kittatinny Mountain Farm, Monmouth Conservation Foundation, New Jersey Land Trust Network, New Jersey Farm Bureau, New Jersey State Agriculture Development Committee, NOFA NJ, and Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

Farmland Advisors New Jersey is an advanced training program for professionals that want to work actively with farmers to access land and successfully transfer farmland to the next generation. Up to 15 participants will be selected for this unique opportunity to join a network of professionals receiving in-depth training to strengthen their personal expertise and organization’s capacity to support beginning farmers across New Jersey. Participants in the Farmland Advisors New Jersey program will dig deep into specific land access and transfer topics such as:

  • Personal and business goal-setting
  • Assessing financial readiness
  • Understanding land tenure options
  • Finding available farmland
  • Assessing farm property suitability
  • Farm leasing and purchasing farmland
  • Participating in farm succession planning

There is no tuition cost to participate and stipends are available to help cover travel expenses for trainings.

Applicants must be professionals actively working with farmers and farmland owners in New Jersey, including staff from Cooperative Extension, farmland preservation programs or land trusts, or other agricultural service providers. A total of 15 participants will be selected through a competitive application process and are expected to commit to the full three-year Farmland Advisors New Jersey program starting July 2018.

Over the course of the program, participants will:

  • Complete surveys to assess professional skill-building within core competencies
  • Develop a self-designed Learning Action Plan that evolves throughout the program
  • Actively participate in 3 webinars, 3 full-day workshops, and up to 5 networking calls
  • Work with a professional coach from American Farmland Trust to apply training to supporting farmers and landowners
  • Host trainings or advise farmers and landowners on accessing or transferring farmland

In addition to stipends to help cover travel expenses for attending training events, participants will be eligible for Implementation Awards to assist with delivering workshops and offering advice to farmers and landowners, as outlined in their Learning Action Plans.

Applications for the Farmland Advisors New Jersey training program are due by June 15, 2018 and are available at farmland.org/njadvisors.