Secure farmland tenure is a huge barrier for beginning farmers, even more so for beginning farmers of color. The value that a farmer can earn from production on the land is far below the value of the land in the marketplace (for residential development, for example).
Financing of expensive farmland adds to the high capital needs of a start-up farm business (such as building or restoring infrastructure, purchasing equipment, etc.) along with inevitable life and operations costs (healthcare, gasoline and housing). Add high labor costs, unpredictable weather and a perishable product, and it is very difficult to make farming profitable.
Enter the national Agrarian Trust, whose model helps beginning farmers secure long-term access to land without the burden of financing ownership. The Minnesota Agrarian Commons is a local affiliate of the Agrarian Trust---one of 10 across the country that incorporated and launched in mid-2020. By working on this initiative, Sharing Our Roots is helping catalyze a national conversation on the issue of ag land access and reframing solutions.
The Minnesota Agrarian Commons is building a diverse board of directors and advisors and listening to beginning farmers about what they need most. In 2021, the Commons will accept ownership of farms so that land can be affordable, sustainable and productive for generations to come. When it does, the initiative will join Sharing Our Roots in providing an innovative approach to land access that is held for all.