If you are looking for land to farm or ranch, Land Link is designed to assist you in finding the farm or ranch that might be a good fit for your agricultural goals and individual situation. We recognize that every farm/ranch seeker’s circumstance is unique, and we work with all types:
- Beginning farmers and ranchers who want to start an agricultural business by leasing or purchasing land,
- Well-seasoned producers who are re-locating or expanding an existing commercial operation,
- Aspiring farmers and ranchers who would like to partner with and/or be mentored by another producer — perhaps a retiring farmer or rancher.
One thing we do require, however, is that you have at least two years experience working on a farm or ranch or gaining equivalent education through a college degree. If you have dreams of farming but currently lack experience or education, we encourage you to find a job on an operation where you can pick up the necessary skills to be successful. Visit our Work Link program to find out more about work opportunities. If none of these listings fit your situation, consider looking for farm employment on Craigslist, with the Montana Job Service, or in local or regional farm and ranch newspapers like Trader’s Dispatch.
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, if you are looking for land to homestead or for other non-business-related purposes, we will likely not approve your application. 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.
- Landowners’ contact information is not visible to the general public. We do this as a protection for landowners to ensure that this list is not misused by non-ag interests. Once your application is approved however, you will automatically be able to view all of the landowners’ contact information and you will be able to contact them 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 your listing to share your goals with the landowners you contact and acts as a “reverse listing,” advertising your interests and letting interested landowners find and contact you! Note that the primary outreach responsibility in this program is with the land seeker – you are most likely to be successful if you reach out to landowners rather than waiting for them to contact you. You can also search through the land seeker listings to find potential business partners and beginning farmers near you.
- 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 land. This will ensure that the listings on our site are fresh, current, and accurate.
- While we can provide support on lease-writing and help with other potential challenges, all land decisions are solely made between you and the landowner. We are happy to help you find landowners that may be a good fit, but we give you all of the decision-making 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 Landowners page to learn about what we’re asking for from them.
- Create a Farm Link account and fill out the Land Seeker 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 you have 2 years of experience and are planning on using the land you find on the site to start a commercial agricultural enterprise.
- If your application is approved you will have access to the landowners contact information within 5 business days.
- As noted above, from this point on the process is up to you to drive and you can look for properties as often as you like. Our regular Farm Link e-newsletter will update you on new land listings, 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 land seeker, use your profile to:
- Describe your farming goals
- List your values
- Detail your farming experience or qualifications
- Upload photos of yourself, your family, or something that supports your farm experience and adds a personal touch
- Describe your desired farm characteristics
When you are ready to reach out to a landowner, get all your ducks in a row. Remember that you may be contacting someone who has lived on the land for many generations and they may feel protective of it! You will be most successful if you have a pretty solid plan for what you want to do and understand your own marketing and financial plans. This will help you to convey a sense of responsibility, maturity, and preparedness and will likely make a landowner excited to work with you. If you want to practice your pitch, we would be happy to be your mirror! Contact Mary to set up a time for a meeting or phone call.
Next Steps in Securing Land
Once you’ve found a piece of land you’re interested in and a landowner who seems like they might be a good fit, the next step is to secure the land. 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 landowner. We also encourage you to visit with an attorney to make sure that the lease protects your needs.
If you’ve decided to buy land, we encourage you to work with a realtor to finalize the paperwork. A buyer’s realtor (your realtor) is paid by the seller so there is no additional cost to you and they can be an important part of your team in ensuring that you are protected through the land purchase process. 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. Another great resource is a first-time homebuyer’s course, such as the series offered by Homeword in Missoula and by other organizations across the country. Often offered for free, these workshops will help you understand the full homebuying process and the many ways in which you can advocate for yourself.
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 Mary 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 you are interested in ranching in Blaine, Phillips or Valley county, you can select Grass Link as a possible Transition Arrangement so that you can be contacted by RSA about linking with a landowner that has retiring CRP land. 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.