Photograph courtesy of Bekah Vigil
The National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) and Fathom Information Design added a new tool to farmers’ digital toolbox: the Land Affordability Calculator helps farmers overcome obstacles to starting a farm including access to land and capital.
The Land Affordability Calculator grants farmers access to information easily and at no cost, helping farmers understand financing options, the full cost of buying land, and strategies to make a farm more affordable.
“Buying land is one of the most consequential decisions that a farmer can make,” said Lindsey Lusher Shute, executive director and co-founder of NYFC. “We built the Land Affordability Calculator to help farmers make that choice with more confidence.”
The calculator allows farmers in the beginning of their search for land to experiment with hypothetical land purchases and financial information to evaluate financing options and farm affordability. Farmers in the midst of their search for land can use the calculator to make educated decisions and avoid risk.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the number of new farmers over the age of 35 continues to rise. But according to the NYFC, farmland prices are more expensive than ever—prices have more than doubled since 2004. NYFC and Fathom Information Design note land access is the top challenge for new farmers, and the calculator helps farmers understand the market for land and the steps needed to start a farm.
NYFC and Fathom Information Design released the calculator’s website Finding Farmland in 2017, which also provides case studies and additional resources for farmers to find the partners that play a role in the search for land. The website and calculator are part of NYFC’s larger land access mission to address the issue by providing training and resources to land trusts and farmers, as well as advocating for funding and policies that will help increase farmland affordability.
Fathom Information Design is a firm that partners with clients to navigate data through visualizations, interactive tools, and software.
The NYFC and Fathom Information Design consulted young farmers and farm service providers in the creation of the calculator. The calculator is made possible by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program which provides grants to provide beginning farmers and ranchers with their unique educational, training, technical assistance, and outreach needs.