The following information and resources may be of assistance to farmers seeking access to famland and farming opportunities.

 

Overview

The types of farming opportunities available in New Jersey include a range of possibilities:

  • Working on a farm to gain experience (intern, apprentice, employee)
  • Working on a farm in a greater capacity (farm manager)
  • Partnering on a farm business (with a landowner or another farmer)
  • Leasing land for your own farm business
  • Purchasing land for your operation
  • Other arrangements

Depending on your background, skills, farming experience, current resources, and level of planning, one or more of the above possibilities may be right for you.

New and aspiring farmers may find the options involving gaining experience to be more attractive, while established farmers may be looking for land to simply lease or purchase.

 

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Strategies for obtaining access to land and farming opportunities

Spreading the word - No matter what type of farming opportunity is being sought, it is important to get the word out. This might involve speaking with farmers, landowners, or others in the areas in which you're interested. It also might involve posting a farming-opportunity-sought listing on several websites or in local papers. As people become aware of what you're seeking, they could help in several ways: they might know about an opportunity they've come across; recommend you talk with someone they know; tell additional people later about what you're seeking; or have something to offer you themselves.

Word of mouth - Speaking with other farmers is often one of the most effective strategies for learning about farming opportunities. Besides visiting with farmers, one way to connect with local growers is through county boards of agriculture. County boards meet monthly except in the summer, and their farmer members may be able to provide feedback, direction, support, or referrals to helpful people and programs. To find out when a county board meets, contact the county’s Rutgers Cooperative Extension county agricultural agent.

Online listings - Using the NJ Farm Link Program's free online listing service is one way for farm seekers to advertise what they're seeking and to connect with farm owners. Farm seekers can create listings describing the farming opportunities they're seeking (farm owners can do the same for what they have available), and the listings include contact information to help facilitate connections. The following are some additional agricultural sites with online listings:

Published advertisements - In addition to posting listings online, some farmers also purchase ads in local papers or trade publications, such as the NJ Farmer newspaper.

Internet searching - Through searching the web, you may find additional sites listing farms for lease or sale. Here is one example of a search-engine search for additional sites. 

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Ideas for new and aspiring farmers to consider

If you're a new and aspiring farmer and have read through the Farm Link Program's page of Resources for New and Aspiring Farmers, you already know that getting started in farming involves more than just seeking access to land - it also invovles important elements such as: assessing your resources and skills; developing a business and marketing plan; becoming familiar with applicable regulations and with programs and organizations that may be of assistance; and deciding what type of farming opportunity makes the most sense to pursue at this time.

Aspiring farmers with little farming experience may find that working on a farm, such as an intern, apprentice, employee, or volunteer, may be a good first step.

For others who have more experience and who are looking to start a new farm business on their own, leasing as opposed to purchasing farmland can be a cost-effective way to get started. Many new farmers have turned to leasing in response to high land values and/or limited access to capital. One benefit of leasing is that not having to make mortgage payments means there are more resources available to help cash-flow the new farm operation.

Another path that some aspiring farmers have followed is to work first as an intern/apprentice, then work as a farm manager, and then start out on their own. One benefit of taking a farm manager position is that doing so can allow for the building of equity and experience without all of the risks and expenses associated with being fully-responsible for running a farm business.

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Additional resources

The following are some additional resources with information on access to land:

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