F.A.R.M.S is a legal non-profit, committed to assisting farmers and landowners retain land for future use of next generation farmer.
Land loss is an epidemic that has plagued Black farmers and landowners. Every month, 30,000 acres of Black landownership is lost primarily due to non-payment of property tax, eminent domain, unprofitable business models, discrimination, generational out-migration, and lack of estate planning.
Ultimately, when the initial landowner(s) die without a will, ownership passes down to their living heirs creating heirs property. Heir’s property is created when the land is held collectively by the original landowner’s descendants. Each heir’s ownership share varies based on state law. However, no matter the size of each heir’s ownership share, all possess the same rights, leaving no single heir with clear title. Over time, the number of heirs owners increase hindering profitable business opportunities. For example, heirs property owners cannot obtain a mortgage or access a range of USDA programs because the title is not cleared. Due to the overwhelming restrictions on ownership, a forced partition sale is often initiated by one or more of the heirs, resulting in the loss of land.
Many ask,“what is the point of retaining land ownership?” The ultimate purpose of retaining the land is to pass it down to the next generation as a family legacy. However, if the youth are disinterested in agriculture, the purpose of family preservation is loss. F.A.R.M.S. is committed to creating and supporting programs that educate youth about agriculture in innovative ways. By working with landowners to retain land through various estate planning and land protection means, the availability of land will not be lost to the next generation.
Affordable legal services are lacking in rural under-served farming communities and small farmers are becoming scarce. The future of farming is rapidly depleting due to the increasing disinterest in younger generations. Protecting farmland from predatory abuse is an essential part of our programming.
Our legal services consist of educational workshops, intake of the farmers/landowners legal matter and connection to an attorney within our network. Over the past six year we have been in operation we have partnered with attorneys from across the country to save small farms from a foreclosure due to a reverse mortgage, provided estate planning services, civil rights litigation and more.
Our F.A.R.M.S. to Food Bank program is an integral part of our organization, we purchase fresh produce from our farm clients from across the country which are then donated to food banks, pantries, homeless, child and eldercare centers. Since 2014 we have purchased over 325,000 lbs. of fresh produce across the country.