Answer: There are several things to consider in your search for farmland. A thoughtful and thorough search and planning process will increase your odds of finding the right property for your unique goals.
Some important questions to ask yourself that relate to what land arrangement will work best for you include:
1) What do you plan to grow? You need less land, but higher-quality soil, if you plan to grow vegetables as opposed to large ruminants like cattle, for instance.
2) Where are your markets and how far are you willing to drive?
3) Do you have a partner or family member with an off-farm job (or will you need an off-farm job), and where does your land need to be in relation to those jobs?
4) Do you need housing and is there housing on or near the land?
5) What water resources are available for irrigation or livestock?
6) Have you weighed the benefits of renting vs. buying farmland?
A very good website on the topic of acquiring farmland is Land for Good at http://newsite.landforgood.org/. This resource offers an online tutorial to guide farmers through the process of finding and evaluating farmland. Another great online tutorial is available from Cornell University's Northeast Beginning Farmers Project at http://nebeginningfarmers.org/farmers/land/.
For more information on renting farmland, see the ATTRA publication Finding Land to Farm: Six Ways to Secure Farmland at https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=174. This publication highlights some common ways to lease or own land. It outlines important considerations about each of these leasing options and paths to ownership.
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