Access to Farmland II: The politics of ownership, consolidation, and alternatives on the American Midwest and Canadian prairies

Type: Virtual Paper
Theme: Geographies of Access: Inclusion and Pathways
Sponsor Groups: Rural Geography Specialty Group, Geographies of Food and Agriculture Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM (PDT)
Room: Virtual 11
Organizers: Naomi Beingessner
Chairs: Kathryn De Master


Access to farmland and fair rural economies are fundamental to ensure healthy, just, and sustainable food systems at local, national, and global scales. The US Midwestern states and Canadian prairie provinces are home to the vast majority of each country’s respective agricultural land, yet there is very little research into the politics, logistics, and barriers to accessing this farmland. This session draws on a mix of quantitative and qualitative research methods to look at the effect of barriers to access on farmers, communities, and struggles for a sustainable, multifunctional agricultural land-base and vibrant rural communities for generations to come. The panel will address the following questions: How do changes in farmland ownership and increasing farmland concentration affect farmers and impact rural mental health, community cohesion and local institutions? To what extent are financial actors participating in the farmland market and how might this affect the social and environmental landscapes of rural communities? What are the barriers to researchers investigating land consolidation and concentration? When land registry data is available, what does it tell us and how might it help researchers, farmers, and policy makers in decision making about farmland access and control? Who is typically left out from discussions of farmland ownership and access and how do advocates for land justice, including Indigenous peoples and conservation organizations, shape and contest what justice means in relation to agricultural land? What role does qualitative research play in interrogating farmland access and how can it be used to effect policy and social change?
Understanding the current politics of farmland access and ownership is essential, especially given the trend of disappearing farmers and consolidation of farmland ownership in the hands of fewer people, be they farmers, investors, or non-farming individuals. The session seeks to demonstrate how land politics affect rural communities’ struggles for access to land as a source of livelihood and as a foundation for developing sustainable food systems and economies.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Introduction Kathryn De Master UC Berkeley 5 9:35 AM
Presenter Naomi Beingessner*, University of Manitoba, A legal geographic approach to exclusion in rural property relations: the case of trespass law in Saskatchewan 14 9:40 AM
Presenter Loka Ashwood*, University of Kentucky, Allen Franco, University of Arkansas, Crystal Boutwell, Auburn University, Danielle Diamond, Northern Illinois University , Lindsay Kuehn, Farmers Legal Action Group, The Midburden: Courtroom Battles Over the Right-to-Farm in the Heartland 14 9:54 AM
Presenter John Canfield*, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Loka Ashwood, University of Kentucky, Ryan Thomson, Auburn University, Mariyam Jamila, Auburn University, The Powering of Agriculture: Creditors and Proprietors in Hog Production 14 10:08 AM
Presenter Bradi Heaberlin*, Indiana University, Farm Stress and the Production of Sacrifice Zones 14 10:22 AM
Discussant Ryan Isakson University of Toronto - Scarborough 14 10:36 AM

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