Farmland Protection Specialist

American Farmland Trust
Columbia, MO
United States
Job Description


About American Farmland Trust American Farmland Trust takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.5 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally sound farming practices on millions of additional acres, and helped thousands of farm families make a go of it. Long a pioneering leader, AFT is now riding a new wave of growth driven by agriculture’s most pressing needs and opportunities. We believe diversity drives innovation. We are inclusive. We embrace differences. We recognize and respect the fundamental values and dignity of all our employees. We celebrate the unique traditions, heritages, and experiences our employees bring to the workplace. We are committed to creating and sustaining an inclusive culture that promotes and values diversity, where everyone feels empowered to bring their authentic selves to work daily. Please see AFT’s statement on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice.
What you will do:Join us in driving the pace of agricultural land protection in Missouri! As a Farmland Protection Specialist, you'll collaborate with innovative agricultural and conservation groups statewide to implement programs that safeguard working lands, bolster farm businesses, and empower new generations of farmers to access land. Funded through a cooperative agreement with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), this role partners closely with AFT's Midwest Farmland Protection Manager and NRCS to promote and manage NRCS easement programs, including the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Agricultural Land Easements (ACEP-ALE). Your responsibilities will also encompass supporting AFT's outreach and program initiatives for agricultural land protection. You'll become well-versed in NRCS policies and guidance pertaining to conservation easement program implementation and provide valuable guidance, feedback, and support to entities like land trusts and public PACE programs, as well as NRCS staff working on projects. This position offers a unique opportunity to develop expertise in land protection while collaborating with a diverse network of state and national partners. The Farmland Protection Specialist will report to the Midwest Farmland Protection Manager while working closely with the NRCS staff. This is a full-time remote position based in Missouri, with regular day visits to the Missouri NRCS state office in Columbia, MO. 
  • Support NRCS in promoting and implementing entity-held easement programs statewide.
  • Assist AFT and NRCS with outreach for Farm Bill conservation and easement programs.
  • Identify support needs and aid eligible entities in building their capacity to efficiently execute agricultural conservation easement projects, offering direct application and program support.
  • Collaborate with AFT's National Agricultural Land Network (NALN) to provide content and assistance for programs benefiting agricultural land protection professionals.
  • Develop and maintain systems for tracking and coordinating land protection projects, ensuring regular communication of project status to NRCS and the relevant entities.
  • Ensure agricultural conservation easement projects funded by NRCS remain on schedule for completion.
  • Facilitate the adoption of conservation practices on eased lands by working with entities.
  • Coordinate communications among NRCS, entities, and project contractors as necessary to resolve issues (e.g., facilitating discussions between land surveyors and NRCS technical reviewers).
  • Fulfill additional duties as assigned to contribute to the successful outreach, administration, and acquisition of agricultural conservation easement programs and projects.

  • Strong written and verbal communication skills with a proven ability to engage effectively with diverse stakeholders, including farmers, landowners, agency personnel, elected officials, and professional service providers.
  • Direct experience in agriculture, natural resources, and land protection is a plus.
  • Familiarity with the land trust environment in Missouri and agricultural conservation easements.
  • Commitment to advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in AFT, agriculture, and the food system.
  •  Self-motivated, with excellent interpersonal skills and a willingness to foster professional growth.
  • Exceptionally organized and disciplined.
  • Capacity to grasp and convey complex issues promptly.
  •  Demonstrated sound judgment, discretion, and an aptitude for maintaining confidentiality.
  • Proficiency in project management and a track record of collaboration within diverse teams of colleagues, peers, and external partners.
  • Proven ability to work both independently and within cross-functional teams, including experience working across traditional reporting structures.
  • Ability to work effectively in a remote environment.

Role Requirements: 
  • A bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in a relevant field, along with a minimum of 4 years of related work experience in natural resources, conservation, land protection, agriculture, and project management.
  • Possess a valid driver's license and reliable transportation.
  • This role involves traveling within Missouri to visit land protection sites and collaborate with partners. Occasional out-of-state travel, such as attending all-staff meetings, may be necessary.
  • Anticipated travel requirements constitute approximately 20% of the work time, primarily as day trips.
  • Eligibility to obtain and maintain a security clearance from USDA-NRCS. NRCS will assist with obtaining the security clearance. 
  • Completion of a federal background check during the initial months of employment is required for this role.  Continued employment is contingent on successful completion of this background check. 

Compensation The salary range for this position is $62,000 - $67,000, commensurate with experience and qualifications. This position is currently funded under an ongoing cooperative agreement with NRCS. While we expect the program to continue without a specific end time, employment is subject to available funding.
American Farmland Trust offers a complete benefits package:
  • Medical & Prescription Coverage 
  • Dental Coverage 
  • Vision Coverage 
  • Company Paid Life Insurance & Long-Term Disability (LTD) 
  • Voluntary Life Insurance 
  • Flexible Spending Account (FSA) – Healthcare & Dependent Care 
  • Health Savings Account (HSA) 
  • 401(k) with 10% match after six months of employment 
  • Sick Leave: Regular full-time employees accrue 3.5 hours per pay period (13 “sick days” per year). 
  • Vacation Leave: Accrue 15 days during the first year increasing by one day per year to 20 days per year
  • Holidays: The Company observes eleven holidays during the year (all offices closed): plus, choice of 3 other floating holidays depending on hiring date

Timeline While applications will be accepted and reviewed until the position is filled, applicants who apply with a cover letter will be considered first. 
American Farmland Trust provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, American Farmland Trust complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment in every location in which the organization has facilities. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation and training.

Salary Description

$62,000 - $67,000