Planning for Retirement and Farm Transition
As Rhode Island farmers consider retirement, and the future of their farms and businesses, it is critical that farm families come together and establish a transfer plan. This can be an intense and sometimes emotional process, especially without an established farming successor. Take a deep breath. There are a number of organizations and resources that can help.
Land for Good should be your first stop. Land for Good is a non-profit organization, whose mission is “to ensure the future of farming in New England by putting more farmers more securely on more land.” They help farmers access secure land tenure, work with retiring farmers to ensure a smooth farm transition, and provide a wealth of resources and guidance regarding land access in New England. Their field agents will work one-on-one with you to make a plan, and can help you and your family throughout this process. Their Toolbox for Farm Transfer Planning is invaluable, and we recommend taking the time to go through these materials first. Land for Good is currently short a Rhode Island field agent, but we can partner with Connecticut representative Will O’Meara. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call Land for Good directly at 603-357-1600.
Another resource available for free to all agricultural producers is mediation. The Center for Mediation & Collaboration RI offers free mediation services to agricultural producers in the state, in partnership with the USDA. Mediators can help bring all stakeholders to the table, and help them get on the same page to work through all those issues that matter to them (e.g. questions about possession, debt, equity, and fairness between family members). To learn more about the mediation process, or to set up an appointment, please call 401-273-9999, or email CMCRI at email@example.com
The Legal Food Hub also offers a free service that connects eligible Rhode Island farmers with volunteer attorneys who can provide pro bono services related to farm succession planning. Our Rhode Island contact is Mary Egan, and she can be reached at 844-529-4769. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org directly to learn more.
Last but not least, please reach out to us at Land & Sea Together! If you’re feeling overwhelmed, and need a bit of guidance as you start (or restart) the farm succession process, we’re happy to help direct you to the best resources for you and your family. Please feel free to email Laurel at email@example.com.