Community Agriculture Alliance: Land Link program unites ag producers | SteamboatToday.com

Community Agriculture Alliance: Land Link program unites ag producers

Todd Hagenbuch/For Steamboat Today

Community Agriculture Alliance

Colorado Land Link is a program that matches farmers and ranchers seeking land opportunities with landowners who are open to transitioning their land. Ideal for absentee landowners, non-ag producing landowners or potential retirees, Land Link creates a process in which you can find someone to farm or ranch your land. Because of the relationship, the producer has a vested stake in making sure your land is cared for, and the relationship between the landowner and producer is mutually beneficial.

The statewide Land Link Forum, which has taken place for the past 5 years in various parts of the state, comes to Northwest Colorado in March in an effort to help our area create a Land Link program here. Landowners, land seekers, community and ag activists and eaters are all invited to attend the 2017 Land Link Forum, held in Steamboat Springs on March 17 and 18 at the Historic Routt County Courthouse.

The 2017 Forum aims unite passionate people to discuss how to get productive agricultural lands into the hands of people who want to produce the food and fiber of a growing nation. Locally, the Northwest Colorado Food Coalition and its partners have determined there is a need in our area to create a system for linking landowners with people seeking land. The coalition felt strongly enough about the idea it made the creation of such a system one of its priorities for 2016 and 17.

Guidestone Colorado, a central-Colorado non-profit based in Salida, created Colorado Land Link and is bringing its expertise and statewide network to our area this year in an effort to help us learn how to create an effective program. Along with CSU Extension and the Community Agriculture Alliance, the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and National Young Farmers Coalition are sponsoring this year's forum.

In well-developed Land Link programs, you're not only matched with a like-minded owner or producer, but users are also provided with educational and training opportunities, technical resources and networking for technical assistance and support. The effort of Land Link is to not only make a match, but to also ensure support continues on both sides into the future.

This year, the statewide forum is focusing on the following three major areas.

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• Strengthening regional and statewide leadership and partnerships.

• Creating and building the capacity of a Land Link program in the Northwest Region.

• Connecting farmers, ranchers and agricultural service providers with tools and resources to support a vibrant agricultural future.

The future of agriculture is exciting, but only if we can keep interested people producing on available land. If you're interested in more information about Land Link or the 2017 Forum, visit routt.extension.colostate.edu and click on 'Hot Topics.' Click on the '2017 Land Link Forum' posting for more information or to RSVP.

Email me at thagenbuch@co.routt.co.us or call 970-879-0825 with questions.

Todd Hagenbuch is Routt County Extension agent for the Colorado State University Extension Office.

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