BFRDP Projects

Laying the Groundwork: A Land Affordability Calculator & National Land Access Training Series to Help the Next Generation of Farmers Succeed
[Final Report]

Award Amount: $574,150
Grant Program: 2016 Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program Awards
Project Director: Holly Rippon-Butler
Organization: National Young Farmers Coalition


  • Overview
  • Results
  • Materials
  • Delivery Area
  • Comments

Project Overview

Our 2017 National Young Farmer Survey found land access to be the number one challenge that young farmers and ranchers face. Many of these are first-generation farmers from non-farming backgrounds, who need support to determine how land tenure decisions will impact the financial health of their farm businesses. Although there are a number of financial planning tools available, none are specifically focused on financial decision-making for land access.

The goal for this project was to create educational tools and programs that enable beginning farmers and ranchers across the country to make informed financial decisions during the process of accessing land so that they will have a solid framework on which to build strong, sustainable farm businesses. We achieved this goal by creating the Finding Farmland program, which consists of a unique calculator tool, a companion online course, and a workshop series, all focused on helping farmers approach the financial decisions related to land access.

The Finding Farmland Calculator ( is a web application designed to help farmers and ranchers across the country make informed financial decisions during the process of accessing land. The site was created in partnership with Fathom Information Design, a technology and design firm that partners with clients to understand, express, and navigate complex data through visualizations, interactive tools, and software. The main feature of the website is a unique mortgage calculator that farmers can use to compare financing costs for different farm properties, or to compare different financing scenarios for a single property. Farmers can also enter financial information from their records and business plans to more comprehensively understand creditworthiness and how purchasing farmland fits into their overall farm financial planning. The Calculator is used by farmers as a business planning tool and by lenders and technical assistance providers as a beginner farmer teaching tool.

The Finding Farmland Course serves as a companion resource to the Calculator, in that it provides instruction, context, activities, and suggested resources that will help beginning farmers seeking land access to confidently approach the financial decisions they will encounter. The Course contains nine lessons, beginning with goal setting and land tenure options, moving into financial planning methods and financing options, then ending with lessons on different land access methods: leasing, buying, and transfers. Each lesson features a blog post and podcast featuring expert guest presenters; an activity; an instructional video for using topic-relevant features of the Calculator; and a compilation of suggested external resources. The whole course is free and can be taken any time at your own pace.

From September 2017 to February 2019, Young Farmers organized and hosted eleven full-day or half-day Finding Farmland Workshops for beginning farmers with partner organizations in regions across the country. These workshops reached 269 farmers, and developed an internal staff capacity to present on topics related to financial decision making for land access at conferences, on webinars, with our chapters, and by request from partner organizations.

This project reached more than ten thousand individual beginning farmers during the grant period, and has enabled the Coalition to develop an educational platform that will serve farmers and ranchers seeking land access for years to come.

Number of Participants: 16436


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