If your goal is to see your land farmed or ranched, we’d like to help out. Land Link Montana is designed to assist you in finding the farmer or rancher who might be a good fit for your land and individual situation. We recognize that every landowner’s circumstance is unique, and we work with all types:
- Retiring farmers and ranchers who’d like to pass their land on to the next generation of producers,
- Non-agricultural landowners who’d like to lease some land to a farmer,
- Farmers and ranchers approaching retirement who’d like to mentor and/or partner with a beginning farmer or rancher.
About the Land Link Program
We function like most other Land Link programs around the country, but there are a few key things to keep in mind:
- We exist to support commercial agriculture. Therefore, we do not accept applications from people looking for land for non-business-related purposes. While we absolutely support homesteading, supporting the ag economy is a key part of our organizational mission and we want these lands to serve that purpose. This means that you can be confident that your land will be used for farming and ranching!
- Landowners’ contact information is not visible to the general public. We do this as a protection for you to ensure that this list is not misused by non-ag interests. Once a land seeker’s application is approved however, they will be able to view the contact information you choose to share and will be able to contact you directly.
- When a land seeker’s application is approved by CFAC, the content in that application becomes the land seeker’s online listing. This allows you to use the database to seek out farmers whose values and goals seem to align with yours. The primary outreach responsibility in this program is with the land seeker, but you are more than welcome to contact a land seeker if you find one that looks like they might be a good match.
- While other programs around the country charge a fee for participating in Land Link programs, we are able to offer this program for free to all users during the time we have funding for the program (currently secured through 2020).
- You will be able to log-on to the site as often as you like (at least annually) to update your listing and verify that you are indeed still looking for a farmer or rancher for your land. This will ensure that the listings on our site are fresh, current, and accurate. Note that if you do not update your listing at least annually, it will be removed from the site (we will get in touch with you before removing it).
- While we can provide support on lease-writing and help with other potential challenges, all land decisions are solely made between you and the land seeker. We are happy to help you find land seekers that may be a good fit, but we give you all of the decisionmaking power when it comes to finalizing an agreement.
The Application Process
To create a listing in the Land Link database:
- Review the information on this page to build your understanding of the program and to ensure your listing includes all of the important info. You may also want to read through the Info for Land Seekers page to learn about what we’re asking for from them.
- Create a Farm Link account and fill out the Landowner application. Please complete the application as thoroughly and thoughtfully as you can. The application will allow you to save your work and come back to finish it at a later time, so feel free to take your time before submitting your application.
- It may take us 3-5 business days to review your application to ensure that all of the questions have been answered. Once we have approved your application, we will send you an email notifying you that your listing is live and giving you the link to it so that you can share it with potential land seekers, friends, and family.
- As noted above, from this point on the process is primarily up to the land seekers, although you can search the database for land seekers as well. Our regular Farm Link e-newsletter will send updates on new land listings and new land seekers, so we encourage you to sign up for it.
- Once you’ve made a match in the program through a lease or purchase of property, please contact Mary at the Community Food & Agriculture Coalition (CFAC) to let us know so we can remove your listing and celebrate your success! While your listing will no longer appear on the site, it will be saved in your account, so you can re-activate it at any time if you are looking for land again in the future.
Tips for Making a Match
What’s the key to a successful land match? Your story. Whether you’re a land seeker or a landowner, you need to set yourself apart from the competition. Landowners turn to Land Link over other real estate services because they care about the land and they want to make a connection with someone who will be a good steward. Land seekers turn to Land Link for the same reason: to make a meaningful connection.
As a landowner, use your profile to:
- Pin your farm on the map
- Tell your farm’s story
- Describe your vision for the land
- List the farm’s characteristics
- Upload photos of the land and/or buildings
Take this time to give some consideration to the range of things you might be open to and types of farming to which you are completely opposed. Remember that the more narrow your vision for your land, the more limited the pool of potential land seekers will be. Simultaneously, think about the things that are important to you about how you use your land. For example, the vision of an organic vegetable farm in mid-July when everything is in peak growth is a lovely one, but the sight of a vegetable farm in mid-November with dead plants and compost piles abounding may look quite a bit different. Make sure that your expectations are appropriate for the types of farming you’re open to. We think that farmers and ranchers make fantastic neighbors, but it’s a good idea to think carefully through your needs and expectations and make sure you find a match that fits them well.
When you are contacted by a land seeker, try to be patient and open-minded with them. Typically in our country, we access land through intermediaries – realtors – and it takes a leap of faith to call a landowner on the phone. While we encourage them to have a carefully prepared pitch ready for their call to you, there’s a chance that they will be nervous and may have a hard time explaining their plans. They also may try to be humble and may not be prepared to tell you about all of the experience they have. We encourage you to try to meet in person so that you can get a better sense of them and whether you might make a good fit for each other. Feel free to ask lots of questions when you meet and make sure that your needs and expectations will be met by any arrangement you enter into.
Next Steps in Securing Land
Once you’ve found a land seeker who seems like they might be a good fit, the next step is to secure the deal. Visit the Land Access page of Farm Link’s Resources section and read Module 8: Land Access of Planning for On-Farm Success for tips on writing an effective lease that works for you and the land seeker. Although these resources are primarily written for the beginning farmer, we think they will have information that you will find helpful as well. We also encourage you to visit with an attorney to make sure that the lease protects your needs.
If you’ve decided to sell your land, we encourage you to consider working with a realtor to finalize the paperwork. Although they add expense to the process, land sold through a realtor typically sells for more than land sold by independent parties because your realtor will negotiate with the buyer’s realtor with less emotion than typically emerges in seller-realtor exchanges. If you are doing a lease-to-own or seller financed purchase, they can also help you to write up the paperwork, although it’s a good idea to run any custom-made paperwork by an attorney.
Finally, be sure to let us know when you’ve made a match! We love hearing about stories of people finding land through our program. Email Annie to share your story.
Grass Link is a partnership between Farm Link Montana and Ranchers Stewardship Alliance (RSA) to link beginning ranchers with grazing leases in Northeast Montana. If your land in Blaine, Phillips or Valley county has an expiring Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contract, you may be eligible for funding to help install grazing infrastructure to prepare your land for a lease with a beginning rancher. Learn more on the Grass Link Information Page and select Grass Link as a possible transition arrangement on your Land Link listing.
CFAC does not vet or endorse Land Link participants. It is the responsibility of the land seeker and landowner to safeguard themselves by clearly defining and clarifying expectations, checking references, and asking questions. CFAC is not a party to any land agreement and the terms of any agreements should be considered private agreements between the land seeker and landowner only.