Gifting your farm into an Agrarian Commons is one of the finest legacies you can leave to future generations. In addition to permanently preserving irreplaceable farmland, your land gift will directly benefit next generation farmers by providing land access that is affordable and secure, the environment by transforming our value of soils and ecosystem, and the local food system by supporting farm viability. You may only wish to donate a portion of your property, or to spread the gift over multiple years for tax purposes – there is no one way to leave this kind of legacy, just as long as it’s the right one for you, and land, and it supports the Agrarian Commons!
An outright donation of land is the best option if you:
- Do not wish to pass land on to heirs
- Own property that you no longer use
- Own significantly appreciated property
- Own a large amount of property and are concerned about estate tax burdens you may pass on to your heirs
- Would like to be relieved of the responsibility of managing and caring for the land
- Wish to make a lasting gift to the environment, to your community, to agricultural sustainability, and to future generations
An outright donation of land involves transferring title to Agrarian Trust, and can provide substantial income tax deductions and estate tax benefits, while avoiding any capital gains taxes that would have resulted from selling the property. Agrarian Trust then transfers title to the Agrarian Commons local to the land and structured with a local farmers centered board responsible for managing your donated farm in a way that is affordable, accessible and secure for generations to come. By donating your land to Agrarian Trust, you will be preserving it as your legacy — an Agrarian Commons supporting a strong regional food system and a healthy environment.
If you would like to gift your land to Agrarian Trust while retaining the right to live on the farm for the remainder of your lifetime or that of named heirs, this can be done as a “remainder interest with a reserved life estate.” This is a way for you to continue enjoying your home and some responsibility for the farm, while initiating, observing and supporting the transition of farm operations to the Agrarian Commons and a new generation of farmers. You can still claim a charitable deduction for the value of the remainder interest.
You may also choose to donate your farm by will (known as a bequest) to Agrarian Trust, continuing to own and control your land during your lifetime, but assuring its protection as part of the Agrarian Commons after your death. In some cases, this strategy can be combined with a lease to Agrarian Trust to initiate the transition of the farm during your lifetime. Gifts made in this manner are often part of a larger planned giving strategy involving the donor’s estate. More about planned giving & bequests.
Gifts of Other Farm Assets
In addition to land, farm assets such as machinery and equipment, buildings, grain and feed inventories, livestock and other items may be gifted to Agrarian Trust to be transitioned into the Agrarian Commons or sold to generate revenue supporting the transition and operation of the farm.
Gifts of Non-Farm Real Estate
In addition, land or any appreciated real estate that is not suitable for farming, including residential or commercial property, can be gifted to the Agrarian Trust, allowing for a charitable deduction. The resale of that real estate (with conservation restrictions, if appropriate) can then generate funds supporting the growth and success of the Agrarian Commons in your region, providing an extraordinary financial impact to the future of farming and healthy food systems where you live, or in support of the nationwide programs of Agrarian Trust. Additional options under this approach include establishing a Charitable Remainder Trust to generate a life income from the sale of property gifted to Agrarian Trust or your regional Agrarian Commons.
How Agrarian Commons are Structured
Agrarian Trust is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization creating a network of Agrarian Commons in communities across the country. Agrarian Commons are regional 501(c)(2) or 501(c)(25) organizations created as landholding subsidiaries of Agrarian Trust. Agrarian Commons are governed by a majority local board with long-term leases to local farmers. The local or regional Agrarian Commons will hold farmland to:
- Support ecologically restorative agriculture and community;
- Convey 99-year lease tenure and equity interest to farmers;
- Share in ecological stewardship investment; and
- Support farm viability and local agrarian economies.
Agrarian Trust, with support from donors, invests in farms and agrarian properties to be held in Agrarian Commons, providing research, technical and financial support for their long-term success.
If you have land you are considering gifting into an Agrarian Commons in your community, to form a new Agrarian Commons, or to the nationwide Agrarian Trust, please contact us so we can discuss options that will meet your needs. Contact Ian at ian (at) agrariantrust.org.