Around the world is a crisis of modernization in which younger generations do not want to inherit the farming and other artisanal work of their families. When farms and value-added productions are closed, we lose not only the quality, but also the knowledge of ecology, technique, tradition, and sustainable technology carried for generations.
According to one study in the US, 2/3 of farms did not have a designated successor. In 2017, 92% of Canadian farms had no successor.
At the same time, a subculture is burgeoning of young people and ex-office workers who want to work with land, agriculture, food, and traditional production methods.
Continuity of productivity in the agricultural and artisan sectors not only affects the families involved, but also the economic health and vitality of rural communities and the landscape.
It is urgent to support aging farmers and artisans by facilitating timely extra-familial succession of the land and business, and also importantly of their knowledge and skill.
A database and facilitative services could reach farmers through local agricultural offices and business associations.
Some farm organizations do offer resources, such as California FarmLink, and Canada’s Farmlink. In Europe, “the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) executive proposed that a minimum of 2% of direct payments allocated to each EU country (Pillar 1) should be set aside for young farmers, complemented by financial support under rural development objectives and measures facilitating access to land and land transfers. Nonetheless, questions remain regarding the extent of the generational renewal problem and whether the policy approach focusing on supporting young farmers is adequate.” (SureFarm)
Facilitation should include
- Assessment of prospective successors.
- Identification of farms and artisan operations facing succession crisis.
- Matchmaking services.
- Financial instruments to facilitate gradual and monitored purchase by successors.
- Institutional mechanisms to track successors’ progress, coach them to ensure success, and to replace them if they do not fulfill agreements.
- Tax incentives to motivate family members to choose succession over sale.
- Immigration services to support access to succession between North America and Europe.