Young Farmers Advice 101


Young Farmers Advice 101


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Maria Boerngen

Mentor Department



The majority of farmland in Illinois is operated by farmers who rent the land from landowners. Landowners are often represented by accredited farm managers in the process of selecting farm operators and determining the terms of farmland leases. Through this process, landowners and farm operators establish a business relationship, and a farmer who wishes to rent must indicate to the landowner and/or farm manager that he or she is a good candidate to farm the owner’s land. Farmers who are more established and experienced have connections with landowners and farm managers, in addition to proven production and financial records, and may therefore be more likely to be chosen as an operator. Therefore, it is often a struggle for young farmers today to rent farmland for the first time due to their relatively limited resources and experience. The objective of this case study was to identify steps a young farmer can take to best prepare to be chosen to rent farmland by a landowner. Through telephone interviews in Fall 2019, ten accredited farm managers from throughout the state of Illinois provided valuable information that young farmers can utilize they seek to advance their farming careers. Interview participants were members of the Illinois Society of Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ISPFMRA), representing a wide range of experience levels (from nine to fifty-nine years). Questions addressed the farm managers’ background and experience, and specific steps young farmers can take to best represent themselves to landowners. Results of this study indicate that young farmers should establish good reputations and strong connections in their communities, and document the capital they have available to their operations. They should also stay informed about trends in the industry, be prepared to offer a fair cash rent, and avoid what accredited farm managers refer to as “rent chasing.” The results of this study can inform the efforts of young farmers as they seek to build and grow their farming careers.

Young Farmers Advice 101