About the Toolkit

Land access and farm transfer are two of the most important issues farmers face. The goal of the Farmland Access Legal Toolkit is to provide a helpful resource for farmers who need land in order to farm, and for farmers who want to transition their land to another farmer, as part of their estate planning or for other reasons.

This resource is designed so that farmers can be better prepared to talk to an attorney about their individual situation. An improved understanding of the legal options described in this toolkit can help farmers create realistic farm transfer or acquisition goals before consulting with an attorney. This makes time with an attorney more efficient, less expensive (because lawyers often charge by the hour), and more likely to lead to a positive outcome for farmers.

In the end, there is no substitute for personalized legal help from an attorney who understands your farm, your family, and your goals.

About Us

The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School trains law and policy students to develop real-world solutions for a more sustainable and just food system. Learn more at vermontlaw.edu/cafs.


This project is funded by the National Agricultural Library, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. We also gratefully acknowledge support received from the Wurster Family Foundation and Matt Matule, Esq.


This resource is the product of several years of research and the combined talents of many people. We are particularly appreciative of the work of Amanda Heyman and the final production team for finalizing legal content, design, and website build, and of Jeannette Eicks and Exari for the design of the Farm Lease Builder. Heirs’ property resources were created in consultation with Eloris Speight of the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center at Alcorn University, Monica Rainge of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, and Mavis Gragg of the Sustainable Forestry & African American Land Retention Network. In addition, we would like to thank the following individuals and organizations for their time, talents, and dedication to this project.

CAFS Staff

Laurie Ristino

Jamie Renner

Carrie Scrufari

Tom Bell

Sarah Danly

Claire Child

Emily Spiegel

Advisory Board

Jenny Rushlow, Conservation Law Foundation

Ben Waterman, University of Vermont

Stephen Carpenter, Farmers' Legal Action Group

Rachel Armstrong, Farm Commons

Holly Rippon-Butler, National Young Farmers Coalition

Vermont Law School Students

Caroline Kimball

MacKenzie Landa

Rachel Oest

Emilie Schwartz

Harsharon Sekhon

Koral Skeen

Alison Uhrlass

Madelyn Vital


Amanda Heyman, Heyman Legal

Amy Manzelli, BCM Environmental & Land Law, PLLC

Fran Miller

Farm Lease Builder App Design

Farm Lease Builder Content Development

Amanda Heyman

Fran Miller

Web Design and Graphics

Mike Arney, Halftone Digital

Web Development and Support

Gabe Halberg, Dadra Design

Lori DuBreuil, Vermont Law School

Legal Review

Website Review

Rachel Bigelow

Jenileigh Harris

Megan Fuerst

Nicolette Lustig

Lihlani Nelson

Emily Spiegel

Ben Waterman


We thank the many farmers who are featured in this resource or who otherwise contributed to its contents by telling their stories for the benefit of other farmers. In particular, we wish to thank our “case study” farmers, featured here.


We consulted with many farm and farmer organizations over the last several years while researching this resource. We appreciate their wisdom and the good work they do for farmers. Thanks especially to:

Terry Dunst, Bakke Norman

Liz Kolbe, Practical Farmers of Iowa

Annie Lemelin, Conservation Law Foundation

Liya Schwartzman, California FarmLink

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