Provide data

Access to information on land is, in many ways, a form of power. The lack of open data at the European and national levels on land sales, prices and ownership benefits players that have more resources or social connections to access land. It also hampers action by public actors and citizens. Local authorities can both generate and share more data on land and agriculture.

Generating data to catalyse action

As a local authority, you may commission studies and/or generate data yourself. You may also act as a facilitator if other actors are looking for information to support their actions. Gathering information will depend on your objectives, which should be clearly defined to orient more precise surveys.

ObjectiveData to generateWhy & how local authorities can help
  • Survey of retiring farmers including: current estates, practices, land ownership/tenancy status, whether a successor is identified, challenges related to transferring the farm (housing, family inheritance, low retirement pension, etc.)

  • Survey potential new entrants/successors: aspirations for taking over the farm, challenges, access to financing, other issues

-->Identify/enrol intermediaries to be able to survey farmers:

  • For retiring farmers connect with advisory services, cooperatives, farming unions…

  • For new entrants connect with agricultural schools, incubators, wwoofing networks, advisory services…

-->Use public legitimacy to make direct contact with individuals, established farmers as local constituents and new entrants as possible newcomers to your area

--> Provide/consolidate data on current farms registered in your area (list and map of registered farming businesses, gather information from public subsidy schemes, etc.)

Attract new entrants

  • Studying aspirations of new entrants in terms of:

-> type of agriculture they are interested in (farm size/type, revenue, etc.)

-> Contexts they look for (need for social connections, local public services and amenities, etc.)

  • Studying options for farm diversification, farm restructuring, supporting collective farming and other new forms of farming that may fit new entrants’ aspirations--

--> As above identify/enrol intermediaries or make direct contact with new entrants farmers

--> Collate information on plots available for new entrants (or farmers that may need successors in the near future)

--> Link with inhabitants/local stores to gather information on market demand for diversified farming activity (demand for locally processed goods, new crops or new food products - e.g. vegan cheeses and milk -, agrotourism, etc.)

  • Studying current demand for organic food

  • Gather information/tools on conversion to organic farming

  • Study procurement options (and how to make organic procurement a reality)

--> Identify/make contact with/collate information on organic retailers, cooperatives, consumers and other short supply chain actors on the market potential for organic goods

--> Make contact with advisory services and certification bodies to gather information on what support is available for conversion to organic farming

--> Link up with local schools, hospitals, retirement homes and other structures that could shift to procuring from local organic farms, gather knowledge on the conditions under which they can perform this shift

Democratising access to data on land and agriculture

If access to data on land is restricted or difficult, local authorities can work on making more accessible the information they have (sometimes because they play a role in administering land registries or sometimes because they have access to some databases – e.g. for taxation purposes – that regular citizens cannot consult). A few ideas to make land data more readily available are listed below.

  • Create land observatories

Monitor the land situation: register plots up for sale or lease and prices. Information can be collated through websites, an online map, or just made available upon request. Other data from specific surveys (on land quality, pollution, etc.), and land zoning information can be made available in such a centralised place to facilitate access. In France, it is regional land agencies (SAFER) that hold such information on land. Several examples exist of local authorities establishing partnerships with SAFER to facilitate the compilation of data.

→ See more on centralising information to match land offers and land demands in Zoom box on “Land banks in Spain” (See intermediate section)

You can foster multi-stakeholder processes to increase knowledge on existing farms and identify key issues (land available for farm succession, abandoned land, fragmented land, etc.). Some ways to proceed:

  • Convene public meetings with stakeholders from one area, put up a map and see whether popular knowledge can help better identify the owners of the parcels and qualify their uses;

  • Or wear your boots and survey the area with mixed groups of volunteers. You can identify types of crops, water resources, existing infrastructure, and more. Distribute sheets to the volunteers to gather information (see and example in the “how to get started” section).

→ See more tools on surveying land in the how to get started section

  • Create a one-stop-shop for new entrants

Work on a simple strategy to welcome new farmers, and communicate about the fact that you are a new farmer-friendly town. Centralise basic information for new entrants on who to contact in your authority, existing services, resources on accessible land and land rights, and other things to meet their needs (e.g. information on housing, cooperatives for equipment sharing, list of commercial outlets for agricultural products, ways to access subsidies, etc.). Local authorities can in addition link new entrants with retiring farmers to access land and/or with organisations to support them.

→ See more about facilitating these relationships in the “Intermediate” section.

  • Make information accessible to citizens

Collectives of citizens or non-profits are mobilising in different countries to protect land threatened by urbanisation, enable agroecology and new farmers, protect landscapes, and carry out other land actions. Local authorities can provide low-investment support to volunteers by sharing the data they have (on farmland that needs protective actions) and providing a platform to meet (e.g. a meeting room, connections to other actors).

Providing access to land to a young shepherd in the commune of Sâncraiu

In Romania, registration of land plots in informatic databases is still relatively scarce. Local authorities are custodians of the knowledge regarding who owns what land and also play a key role in administering access to common pastures where the farmers can bring animals to graze. The commune of Sâncraiu in Transylvania helped a young shepherd consolidate his animal-raising activity by providing him access to common pastures. While this farmer had been denied access to commons in his own village (where they were concessioned to a large agribusiness), the Sâncraiu mayor and local actors like the Eco Ruralis association shared knowledge with the shepherd on accessible land and land rights and facilitated links with the local community to consolidate his farming operation.

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