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South Dakota Grasslands Coalition Introduces the South Dakota Agricultural Land Trust (SDALT)

What is a Land Trust?

Our partner, the South Dakota Grasslands Coalition, recently sent out a newsletter to raise awareness of the South Dakota Agricultural Land Trust (SDALT). SD Grasslands tell us “The organization was founded because there was a lot of interest in South Dakota for conservation easements, but no organization was solely controlled by farmers and ranchers. The creation of SDALT resulted from a goal to form a non-profit organization that would hold conservation easements to preserve working lands for future generations to enjoy.”

For more on the SDALT, please visit their website.

So what are agricultural land trusts and what is their function? If you’d like to educate yourself a little more, we took a little dive into the subject and hope you find this useful!

An agricultural land trust is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving and protecting farmland for agricultural use. These trusts work to secure agricultural lands from development, ensuring their long-term availability of the land for farming and ranching purposes.

Here are some key functions and services that agricultural land trusts provide to producers:

Land Preservation: The primary goal of agricultural land trusts is to preserve and protect agricultural land from being converted to non-agricultural uses such as urbanization or industrialization. By acquiring easements or purchasing farmland, land trusts help safeguard valuable agricultural resources.

Easements and Acquisitions: Agricultural land trusts often work with landowners to establish conservation easements. A conservation easement is a legal agreement that restricts the future development of the land ensuring it remains in agricultural production. If an easement is in place, this typically means that the value of the land is reduced because it can’t be resold for development or other purposes and the landowner is compensated by the land trust for this reduction in value. Land trusts may also acquire farmland outright and lease it to farmers or ranchers.

Stewardship and Monitoring: Agricultural land trusts can take responsibility for monitoring and enforcing the terms of conservation easements. They conduct regular inspections to ensure that the land remains used for agricultural purposes and to protect against any violations or encroachments.

Technical Assistance: Land trusts can provide technical assistance to farmers and landowners, offering guidance on sustainable agricultural practices, soil conservation, water management, and other land stewardship techniques. This support helps farmers optimize their operations and maintain the productivity of the land.

Access to Land: They can facilitate access to affordable farmland for new and aspiring farmers. They may offer leasing options, provide assistance in securing financing, or help connect farmers with available land opportunities. This access to land is crucial for supporting the next generation of farmers.

Education and Outreach: Land trusts often engage in educational programs and outreach efforts to raise awareness about the importance of farmland conservation. They collaborate with farmers, community organizations, and policymakers to promote sustainable agriculture, advocate for agricultural policies, and foster a greater understanding of the value of agricultural lands.

Farm Succession Planning: Agricultural land trusts assist farmers with succession planning, helping to ensure that farmland remains in productive agricultural use as it transitions from one generation to the next. This service helps preserve the farming heritage and allows families to pass down their agricultural legacies.

By providing these services, agricultural land trusts play a vital role in protecting and supporting the agricultural industry, promoting sustainable practices, and preserving the availability of fertile land for future generations of farmers.

For more on the SDALT, please visit their website here.


Visit these “Growing Resilience Through Our Soils” information pages:

1. Podcast page for drought planning fact sheets, Q&As, news, podcasts and more.

2. Video page to watch videos of other ranchers’ journeys toward improved rangeland/pasture.

3.Follow Growing Resilience on social media:


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