Legal Institutions of Farmland Succession: Implications for Sustainable Food Systems

28 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2013

See all articles by Jamie Baxter

Jamie Baxter

Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law; Yale University - Law School

Date Written: June 11, 2013


The legal institutions relevant to farmland succession — defined as the transfer of property in and control over farmland — are increasingly important determinants of sustainable environmental outcomes on modern farms. The history of farmland succession has been written, by and large, through extra-legal processes of transfer and inheritance between generations of close family relations. This familiar “family farm” model, however, is rapidly being replaced by succession arrangements between non-relatives, often strangers, with entrant farmers from non-agricultural backgrounds. As a growing number of current farmers retire and seek creative ways to transfer control and ownership of their farms, the availability and content of property arrangements on farmlands acquire a new significance. The resulting formalization of farmland succession places greater demands on policy makers to craft farmland tenure options and supporting institutions that are suitable to a wider diversity of needs, particularly among small farmers, and to consider the impacts of these arrangements for sustainable food systems over the long term.

Keywords: Food Law, Land Tenure, Sustainable Food Systems, Property Rights, Succession

Suggested Citation

Baxter, Jamie, Legal Institutions of Farmland Succession: Implications for Sustainable Food Systems (June 11, 2013). (2013) 65 Maine Law Review 381 , Available at SSRN:

Jamie Baxter (Contact Author)

Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law ( email )

6061 University Avenue
6061 University Ave
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4H9

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

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