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Land seekers, get creative

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As organizer of the Center for Rural Affairs Land Link program, which matches beginning farmers with landowners, I talk to beginning farmers every day.  
Their situations are diverse but they all share a common dream of operating a farm or ranch.
Our Land Link participant list contains over 250 beginners and fewer than 20 landowners.  
Recognizing this "bottle-neck" in the match making process, I encourage beginners to get creative in their search for land.
My advice usually relies heavily on word-of-mouth, the best advertising in rural communities.  
Success stories, like Kevin Ford's prove that word of mouth can be very successful.
It began when Ford and his wife visited his hometown and realized it might be a place to relocate and expand their vegetable farming operation.
They started seeking out farms and when word got out in the community that one of its native sons wanted to move back, suddenly everyone knew of available land. They were able to rent a farm owned by a retiree, with the possibility of future purchase.
Networking worked for the Fords.
We hope to duplicate that example by finding as many landowners willing to work with a beginning farmer or rancher to lease or purchase their farm or ranch as possible. Do you fit that description?
We want to hear your thoughts on how Land Link (www.cfra.org/landlink) can bring landowners and beginners together and create genuine opportunity for the next generation of family farmers and ranchers. Contact me at virginiaw@cfra.org or 402-687-2103, Ext. 1017.
Virginia Wolking
Center for Rural Affairs