Nationally, farmland is being lost to development at an alarming rate of 40 acres per hour.
There is currently little institutional support for conserving farmland in Arizona, but below are resources, efforts to conserve farmland, and stories of how some Arizona producers cope.
A resource from the National Young Farmers Coalition
National Young Farmers Coalition is excited to present Finding Farmland, a financial education tool for farmers buying land, no matter where you are in your land access journey.
In the throes of a land search? Use the Land Affordability Calculator to compare financing costs for two different farm properties, or to compare different financing scenarios for a single property.
Dreaming of owning a farm, but not yet planning? Read the Case Study, brush up your financial literacy, and plug some numbers into the Calculator to start building a plan around your dreams.
NYFC wants Finding Farmland to be farmers’ go-to land access resource. The site is in beta mode, and we need farmers’ feedback, especially those who are actively seeking land. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help or have questions or ideas for the next release.
Protecting Farmland in the Phoenix Metro Area
Civic Leaders periodically develop regional Food Action Plans and seek public input. Good Food Finder partners with municipalities and regional governments to cultivate healthy relationships for longevity of Arizona’s agricultural lands. Check out our events calendar for opportunities to meet your Civic Leaders, voice your needs, and identify solutions.
The Arizona Community Land Trust is seeking land for cultivation in urban Maricopa County, ideally with access to SRP flood irrigation, for long-term protection as agricultural land. More information is available here, or learn more from Richard Starling, Executive Director, at 520-604-0334.
Know of other ways Arizonans are successfully working to preserve farmland? Let us know.
Stories from the Phoenix Metro Area
Frank Martin, Crooked Sky Farms
Erich Schultz, Steadfast Farm
Frank has been growing in the Phoenix Metro area for decades, forging relationships with land-owners who lease him land in order to qualify for lower agricultural property tax rates before they opt to sell or develop the parcels.
”Frank leases land in four different locations in Phoenix, ranging from 10 to 40 acres in size, from which he serves 400 CSA customers, about a dozen restaurants, several grocers, and distributors. To hedge against the uncertainty of land tenure in the city, and to diversity the crops he can grow, Frank also farms a property in Duncan, Arizona and owns another three miles from there in Virden, New Mexico.”
“Erich has designed his farm to be a mobile operation. Setting up a bank of high tunnels on mobile platforms, and moving two trailers onto the land to serve as washing, packing, and cooling sheds, he can rely upon a cool bot (a simple air conditioner that holds a constant temperature) to store his produce, and be ready to pick up the entire operation to relocate to new ground if the landowner terminates the lease.
Currently, he has a 2.25-acre farm in Queen Creek, where he says he can average $150,000 to $200,000 of sales per acre. “
Photo by Ryan Neal Cordwell
Excerpts and case studies from the Crossroads Resource Center 2018 Report Building Community Networks Through Community Foods, commissioned by the Maricopa County Food System Coalition. Used with permission from the farmers.
Additional Federal Resources & Strategies:
For 35 years, American Farmland Trust has worked – from the ground up – to build a national movement to protect the nation's farms, farmland and environment. Specifically, they purchase land through the Purchase of Agriculture Conservation Easements (PACE) for which there is not currently an active program in Arizona. Learn more: https://www.farmland.org/
A list of resources that are vetted for every agricultural land pursuit in the United States: http://www.agrariantrust.org/resources/accessing-land/