Support Equitable Access to Farmland


About 400 million acres of farmland in the U.S. will change hands in the next decade as the current generation of farmers and landowners retires. How this transition takes place will dramatically impact rural viability, our response to the climate crisis, and our ability to continue to feed ourselves. For many farmers, especially young, beginning, and immigrant farmers and farmers of color, land access is a major barrier, as farmland prices nearly doubled from 2005 to 2019[1] and over 2,000 acres in the U.S. convert to nonfarm use every day.[2]

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State Policy Priorities

  • Protect productive farmland through statewide and regional land use planning and supporting access to public lands for farmers.
  • Provide state support for permanent farmland protections such as working farm easements.
  • Fund farm incubators and land link programs, with a priority for initiatives led by farmers of color.
  • Provide income tax and capital gains exemptions for land sale or lease into working farm easements.
  • Allow Native peoples access to state lands for traditional activities of hunting and gathering of foods and medicine.
  • Restrict or prohibit corporate ownership of farmland.

State Examples

  • California (2019 CA AB-986) considered a bill to provide grant funding to eligible conservation entities to protect farmland from development, facilitate sales or long-term leases to farmers of color, and provide assistance for down payment costs and infrastructure improvement.
  • States like Iowa (2021 IA HF 694) and Michigan (2021 MI SB 697) have considered a tax credit for agricultural-asset holders who lease agriculture assets to young and beginning farmers.
  • Minnesota (2021 MN HF 1524) appropriated funding in the Department of Agriculture budget for farm transition teams to provide services like technical assistance to young and beginning farmers.
  • North Carolina (2012 NC HB 737) prioritized new and beginning farmers and socially disadvantaged farmers in a cost share program to help farmers access agricultural markets.
  • Illinois (2021 IL SR 168) passed a resolution calling on Congress to expand the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program to include farming as an applicable career for loan forgiveness.
  • Missouri (2021 MO SB 243) is proposing retightening restrictions on foreign ownership of farmland. The previous limits were changed in 2013 when Smithfield, which owns many assets in the state, was purchased by Chinese-owned WH Group.[4]
  • A North Dakota (D. Cent. Code § 10-06.1-02) statute prohibits corporations and foreign countries from owning farmland in the state.
  • The Oklahoma constitution (OK Const. Art. 22, § 1) prohibits foreign corporations from engaging in or owning or leasing farming or ranching operations and prohibits all corporations from real estate transactions outside of cities or towns.
[4] Voorhees, Josh. “A Renewed Push to Crack Down on Foreign Farm Ownership.” Modern Farmer, 4 Mar. 2021,


Inspired? Ready to dig in on these issues with your rural neighbors? Our practical communications toolkits will help you connect with new communities through common values. The toolkits provide examples on narrative framing, press release templates, sample talking points, and more. 

Click here for the communications toolkit on Access to Rural Economic Opportunity.

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