Farmers of color and beginning farmers are battling wealthy buyers for farm acres amid a rural land rush

As wealthy city residents seek bucolic hideaways and speculators hunt for investments, the cost of rural land has soared, pricing out farmers of color and new farmers in search of affordable farmland. These reasons—plus high agricultural commodity prices, close to zero interest rates, and the growing scarcity of farmland across the country—are driving salesCivil Eats reports. But experts say that as more rural farmland is replaced by housing and development and climate change continues to shrink the nation’s arable land base, the gap between demand and availability will only widen, leading to a sustained increase in the value of farmland over time. Between June 2020 and June 2021 the price of farmland jumped by 7 percent—its highest increase since 2012. Despite access to low-interest USDA loans, beginning farmers and farmers of color have difficulty qualifying for funding. In a 2017 National Young Farmers Coalition report, respondents said securing farmland was the biggest problem they faced, and was the most common reason they left farming. Though costs are rising everywhere, the problem seems to be hitting farmers in the Northeast hardest. The region has an abundance of small-scale producers while touting some of the highest land prices in the country. —Safiya Charles