An avalanche of land transfer is beginning in Iowa as people who’ve accumulated the most wealth in this nation’s history pass it on to the next generation.
But many “farm kids” have moved away from the land their families own, and look to housing developers* or the farmer** next door as likely buyers.
This perfect storm is causing today’s farm crisis, the result of which will determine what America’s landscape, food system and public health will look like for centuries to come.
In fewer than 5 minutes, SILT’s first music video, illustrates this complicated issue and one permanent, multi-faceted solution to it – the permanent protection of Iowa farmland. Featuring the song Common Ground by the Awful Purdies of Iowa City, the video met with enthusiastic applause by guests at the Sustainable Iowa Land Trust’s annual dinner in November.
A select group has been able to see it on YouTube as well.
“Amazing and thought-provoking,” said viewer Kathy Eastman of Des Moines. “Nearly made me cry.”
“Until now, landowners only had two choices,” said Lyle Luzum whose family donated their 170-acre heritage farm to SILT this year. “SILT offers a third choice for those of us who care about how the land is treated, and don’t have family to carry on our values of stewardship and contribution to our local community.”
Affordable land means access to more kinds of young and new farmers who traditionally haven’t had the means to start farming. Healthy food farming often means smaller though more labor-intensive farming with lower start up costs.
“Land closest to our growing communities is always under price pressure from housing development or commodity prices where development hasn’t reached yet,” explained SILT President Suzan Erem, “Food farmers need land close to their markets to be competitive and offer affordable fresh food to customers.” SILT takes competition unrelated to food farming out of the equation by limiting the use of the land to sustainable food production.”
SILT’s mission is to protect land to grow healthy food. In 3 years the statewide group has taken on $2.7 million worth of land protection in both farms and land protection agreements attached to deeds. Donate here to support SILT’s work.
*SILT is seeking housing developer partners interested in building agri-hoods in targeted locations while maximizing available tax incentives to permanently protect the land for food production. Contact us today if you’re interested in learning more.
**99 percent of Iowa cropland is in commodity corn and bean production not intended for direct human consumption. Average farm operations continue to increase to thousands of acres while next generation farmers are locked out of farming by high start up costs, the greatest one being the cost of land.