Farm land in Nebraska
A new Nebraska program is address farm succession. Farm property similar to potential farmland in the Land Link program. Courtesy of Land Link

A new Nebraska program is working to connect young land seekers to retiring landowners without succession plans.

“Land access is one of the biggest challenges that faces aspiring farmers,” said Allan Vyhnalek, the creator of Land Link. “For some landowners, they simply do not have the next generation available to take over their operation.”

Vyhnalek, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln extension educator, started Land Link in February 2021 to address the problem. 

“When landowners or land seekers apply to Land Link, Nebraska Extension personnel will work to match their application with the most compatible counterpart,” Vyhnalek said. “Using submitted answers in the application, our matches are based on the shared values, interests and skills of the two people to ensure that a mutually beneficial and satisfying partnership can be created with this transition plan.”

Vyhnalek is not doing this alone. He partnered with the Nebraska Women in Agriculture program to ensure the best results. 

“We’re really excited to have people consider the opportunity that the Land Link provides,” said Jessica Groskopf, director of Nebraska Women in Agriculture.

Groskopf’s experience as the Panhandle regional economist and Vyhnalek’s passion for farm and ranch succession are what started Land Link.

“I’m so pleased that Women in Ag is helping us get this done and get it off the ground,” Vyhnalek said. 

According to Vyhnalek, there are three purposes for starting the Land Link program in Nebraska: access to land for land seekers, a succession plan for landowners and a benefit to local communities. 

“For land seekers, if you don’t have access to farmland through a relative or through a close friend, then you don’t have very good access to land because it is just so expensive,” Vyhnalek said. “For landowners, many don’t have children who can take over the farm, and the Land Link program is a way for them to possibly keep their operation going as its own identifiable operation.”

Vyhnalek said the program can even benefit communities. 

“In rural Nebraska, when we lose farms, we ultimately lose business on main street,” Vyhnalek said.

“So if we can keep farm units going by replacing the retiring with younger people or people who are willing to take over that operation, then it is a way to keep more units in place and a way to keep rural Nebraska strong.” 

Both Groskopf and Vyhnalek hope Land Link can create more opportunities for both land seekers and landowners in their farming journey. 

“We work to provide important, educational information about transfers, communication, negotiations, goal setting and more,” Vyhnalek said. “I think this could have a tremendously positive effect.”

For more information about how to sign up, visit https://farm.unl.edu/landlink.

ADPR and Journalism double major from Norfolk, Ne.