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.
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 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.
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
Amanda Heyman, Heyman Legal
Amy Manzelli, BCM Environmental & Land Law, PLLC
Jeannette Eicks, The Center for Legal Innovation
Mike Arney, Halftone Digital
Gabe Halberg, Dadra Design
Lori DuBreuil, Vermont Law School
Jen Santini, Sykora and Santini
Donald Sienkiewicz, Estate Preservation & Planning Law Office
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
The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems is an initiative of Vermont Law School, and this toolkit provides general legal information for educational purposes only. It is not meant to substitute, and should not be relied upon, for legal advice. Each farmer’s circumstances are unique, state laws vary, and the information contained herein is specific to the time of publication. Accordingly, for legal advice, please consult an attorney licensed in your state.