On April 17, Land Stewardship Project members gathered in Menomonie, Wis., to discuss the challenges they face as beginning farmers seeking land to farm. They also discussed how to shape the initial stages of LSP’s organizing for more affordable, secure land tenure.
These farmers shared stories about how skyrocketing land prices are creating a crisis for them, as well as farms around them, their communities, and the land. People are making enormous sacrifices to find land, buy land, keep land and make a living off of the land they’ve got. These sacrifices are preventing people from building the farming system and rural culture that they need.
These stories are plentiful and being told in every small town and farmhouse across the Upper Midwest. Skyrocketing land prices are creating a crisis for family farmers of all stripes.
Consolidation of power and profit over land is a huge problem. Shifting this power and placing more of it in the hands of family farmers will require an equally huge effort over a long time. But that shift will be made up of small, concrete, strategic steps, and those are the steps LSP members are taking today. As the old joke goes: “How do you eat an elephant? Bite-by-bite.”
At this meeting and others around Minnesota and Wisconsin in coming months, LSP members are shaping how their organization takes these first steps toward winning affordable, secure land tenure for farmers. For more information or to get involved, please contact Sarah Claassen or Nick Olson.
P.S.: Farmers and organizations around the country are organizing around this issue. Check out this op-ed by Lindsay Lusher Schute of the National Young Farmer’s Coalition for her take on the real economic viability of community based farms. It’s a great piece.
Sarah Claassen is an LSP Farm Beginnings organizer working on land access issues. She can be reached via e-mail or at 612-722-6377.