Commissioner Hugh Weathers: SC Farm Link

As the average age of farmers increases, preservation of farmland is becoming a very important topic. Commissioner Hugh Weathers is here to tell us more about what steps SCDA is taking to address this problem:

  • Here at the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, one of our top priorities is supporting the next generation of farmers and providing them with opportunities to grow and succeed.
  • The average age of South Carolina farmers is over 58 years old and 10% of U.S. farmland is expected to transfer between 2014 and 2019, which translates to 91.5 million acres.
  • With so much land in transition and with current farmers approaching retirement age, now is the time to ensure the next generation has the tools to feed the world. Yet, a major challenge for young and beginning farmers continues to be gaining access to land.
  • To help, SCDA has launched a statewide farm transition program, called South Carolina Farm Link.
  • The mission of the SC Farm Link program is to keep land in agricultural use by improving access to farmland in our state for South Carolina’s beginning and expanding farmers.
  • Farm Link matches people who are looking to get into farming with people who are looking to get out of farming.
  • Not only is Farm Link designed to assist those searching for land, but it is also a great opportunity for a retiring farmer to partner with a young or beginning farmer to ensure his or her agricultural operation continues.
  • If you will be retiring or scaling back your role in your operation within the next 5-10 years, and you are not sure who will be taking it on, you may want to consider participating in SC Farm Link.
  • Participating farm seekers will receive direct assistance with locating available farmland and making connections with landowners, and owners will be connected with farmers who are the right fit for their transition needs.
  • Whether it is through a sale, lease, or other form of business partnership, the goal is to make sure South Carolina’s working farmlands stay in production and are not lost to development.
  • There is no cost to participate in SC Farm Link.
  • This program is now housed under our ACRE platform and Kyle Player is the contact. I encourage you to contact our office if you would like more information or would like to be put in contact with a farm owner or a farm seeker.
  • You can find information on both the SCDA website (agriculture.sc.gov) and ACRE (acre-sc.com) including the new map feature that shows all available land and fillable applications.
  • It’s one of our many initiatives here at SCDA to serve the present and future members of this great industry in South Carolina.