Episode 26 - Barrier to Growth

There seems to be a perfect storm of factors that threaten to completely reshape who owns farmland here in the US and globally. 400 million acres of farmland in the US alone will change hands in the next 20 years, farmers are retiring and there is a much smaller generation of young farmers to replace them, and global investment for agriculture land is on the rise, which will push family farmers off the land in favor of industrial consolidation. Beyond that, farmland is being lost to competing land uses. In the United States, that's between 1 and 3 acres of farmland lost every minute.

To help navigate some of these issues, and as an example of solutions that are being developed and implmented to fight against these trends, we are joined by Ian McSweeney, organizational director of Agrarian Trust.

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  • 00:18 Panama
  • 04:14 Theft As Policy
  • 07:52 Farming is Hard
  • 14:45 Ian McSweeney, Agrarian Trust
  • 17:48 Early Work in Real Estate
  • 20:25 Where Did a Passion for Farmland Come From?
  • 24:16 "When Community Suffers, Community Farms Suffer"
  • 24:43 Founding of Agrarian Trust
  • 28:06 Why Agrarian Trust?
  • 29:53 Innovation
  • 31:50 Community Based Ownership Model
  • 32:43 Land Prices
  • 35:45 Land Valuation Methods
  • 40:34 What Does Agrarian Trust Do?
  • 43:20 Models for Creating Local Communities
  • 47:57 Ensuring Long-Term Communities
  • 50:04 Conversations Easments
  • 52:55 Enforcing Sustainable Action
  • 55:23 Opportunities for Restructuring Conservation Management
  • 57:34 Scaling Processing with Land Trust Vertical Integration?
  • 59:13 Alternative Financing for Farmers
  • 1:02:56 Agrarian Lawyer Network
  • 1:06:03 Urban Farming
  • 1:08:40 Addressing Climate Change?
  • 1:11:47 Initial Areas for Farm Commons Projects
  • 1:12:59 Agrarian Trust work going foward
  • 1:14:08 Next Steps
  • 1:19:55 What Can We Do?

Agrarian Trust

Agrarian Trust Website and Team

Shumacher Center for New Economics


Contact Ian: Ian at agrariantrust.org

Additional Reading

Oakland Institute: Down on the Farm (Wall Street: America's New Farmer)

National Young Farmers Coalition: Finding Farmland: A Farmer's Guide to Working with Land Trusts


@book{logsdon_2000, place={White River Junction, VT}, title={Living at natures pace: farming and the American dream}, publisher={Chelsea Green Pub. Co.}, author={Logsdon, Gene}, year={2000}}

@book{berry_2014, place={Berkeley, CA}, title={Citizenship papers}, publisher={Counterpoint}, author={Berry, Wendell}, year={2014}}

@misc{roman-alcalá_2018, title={Agroecology Is Becoming A Global Movement. But Where Does the U.S. Fit In?}, url={http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/agroecology-is-becoming-a-global-movement-but-where-does-the-us-fit-in-20180507?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=YTW_20180511&utm_content=YTW_20180511 CID_a2b873bd4b3085eee94368daa2ecc864&utm_source=CM&utm_term=Agroecology Is Becoming a Global Movement But Where Does the US Fit In}, journal={YES! Magazine}, author={Roman-Alcalá, Antonio}, year={2018}, month={May}}

@misc{snell_2018, title={Suicide Is Rising Among American Farmers As They Struggle To Keep Afloat}, url={https://www.npr.org/2018/05/16/611727777/suicide-is-rising-among-american-farmers-as-they-struggle-to-keep-afloat}, journal={NPR}, publisher={NPR}, author={Snell, Kelsey}, year={2018}, month={May}}


Daniel Forkner & David Torcivia & Chris D'Alessandro