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Here's How Young Farmers Looking for Land Are Getting Creative

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Across the country, there's a wave of interest in local food. And a new generation of young farmers is trying to grow it.

Many of these farmers - many of whom didn't grow up on farms - would like to stay close to cities. After all, that's where the demand for local food is.

The problem is, that's where land is most expensive. So young farmers looking for affordable land are forced to get creative.

Lindsey Lusher Shute, executive director of the National Young Farmer's Coalition, says that her organization conducted a survey of 1,000 farmers in 2011, and "land access came up as the No. 2 challenge for farmers [who were] getting started." It came in right behind not having enough financial capital.

Put simply, in areas close to major cities, especially on the East and West coasts, farmers can't pay nearly as much for land as people who would build houses on it.

In fact, it's not a new problem. Several decades ago, state and local governments, and nonprofit organizations, began attempts to preserve farmland that was threatened by urban sprawl.

They set up programs that give farmers cash in exchange for a legally binding promise that their land can only be used for farming, forever. As a result, farmers don't have to compete against developers for that land, making the land cheaper.      


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