Buying land is often out of reach for new entrants, particularly newcomers to farming. In some cases, it is essential to temporarily stock the land to give them time to raise the money needed. Here, a good collaboration between the local Safer, the Regional Government and Terre de liens made it possible to preserve a farm and facilitate entry of two young growers on a fam open for succession.
The difficulty to acquire land
In 2008, Gaël and Mathieu wanted to start growing on a farm available for succession in Saintes, Charente-Maritime. The farm is located in the valley of river Arnoult, a traditional area for market gardening due to the high-quality soil. They spent one year training and managing various financial and administrative procedures to acquire the farm. In the end, they were refused a bank loan: three different banks rejected their application, due to their lack of personal input. They then approached Terre de liens for support. They asked Terre de liens to acquire the farm and rent it to them, so that they could use their input to develop their farm business, rather than “freeze” it in land and buildings.
The Safer temporarily stocks the land
The local Safer was in charge of selling the farm. It decided to allocate the farm to them as their project meant an entry into farming in organic agriculture, two of the SAFER’s priorities. But Terre de Liens could not immediately buy the farm for lack of funds. Fortunately, the land portage agreement between the Safer and the Poitou-Charentes Region gave them time to gather the money. They agreed on a 2-year "land portage agreement" for the farm.
Thus, between 2010 and 2012, the Safer was the owner of the farm and took care of all administrative aspects of its management (temporary lease, real estate tax, etc.), while the Poitou-Charentes Region paid all related costs (administrative costs, financial costs due to the bank loan contracted by the SAFER to acquire the farm, etc). Overall, the costs of the portage amounted to €18,000: €14000 of financial expenses and €4000 in management fees.
Terre de liens buys the land for the two growers
The farmers were able to start working on the farm during the time of the portage. In March 2010, they signed a temporary lease with the SAFER and the Poitou-Charentes Region, enabling them to start their activity during this transitional period. In 2012, Terre de liens managed to raise all the funds and bought the farm from the SAFER: 9 hectares of land, a farmhouse and a shed. Terre de liens then rent the land to Gaël and Matthieu, under a rural environmental lease, with binding environmental clauses such as maintenance of hedges and compliance with the specifications of organic farming.
Without the support of Terre de liens, combined with the support of the local SAFER and Regional Council, this farm would probably have been bought and absorbed by neighbouring farms, and possibly turned to conventional cereal production, which is developing in the area.
Further reading and updates:
https://www.terredeliens.org/le-pointeau.html (in French)