Locally Grown Food—A Key Component in Planning for Agriculture
Farmer’s markets, roadside stands, community sustainable agriculture farms (CSAs) and pick-your-own produce—locally grown food systems are expanding dramatically and creating a base for the future of agriculture in many communities. Direct sales from farms to consumers are up 37 percent from 1997, totaling $812 million, according to the Census of Agriculture and communities are incorporating these opportunities into plans to protect farmland and ensure a viable future for farming. To support these efforts organizations around the country are reestablishing the direct connection between farmers and consumers: FoodRoutes, Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) and Local Harvest. Even the federal government is getting involved with “farm-to-cafeteria” programs for local school districts to establish “access to local foods and school gardens.”
U.S. Farm Policy Reform Looks Inevitable
Factors such as World Trade Organization rulings, budget deficit pressures, and increasing public awareness of the current programs—who gets payments and who doesn’t—are going to force changes in U.S. farm policy. The question is: what will reform look like? American Farmland Trust President Ralph Grossi lays out this unprecedented opportunity. How to improve U.S. farm policy? Why will this next farm bill be different? And what are we trying to achieve?
Conservation Districts Take on Easements
Soil and water conservation districts in Oregon can now help local landowners protect their land through conservation easements. Last year, Oregon's Legislature gave conservation districts new authority to hold easements. To help get the program up and running, American Farmland Trust and partners have developed a series of instructional presentations for local conservation district boards. Soon Oregon conservation districts will be working to create and hold new conservation easements, generate local demand for Federal Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program funding and build a new constituency for locally funded farmland protection programs. This program will set a precedent and serve as an example for soil and water conservation districts around the country. For more information, contact Don Stuart at email@example.com.
NRCS Releases FY 2005 Conservation Funding
The NRCS recently announced the release of $1.6 billion in conservation funding for fiscal year 2005. The early release of funds enables the department to accept applications and make funding decisions before most producers return to their fields in the spring. Program allocations are based on the levels proposed by the House and Senate in their respective agriculture appropriation bills. Additional funding may be released once Congress approves a final omnibus appropriations bill. The agency also announced the release of an additional $3.3 million in Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program funds to 16 states before the end of fiscal year 2004. This brings the total amount of FRPP funds allocated during the fiscal year to $88 million.
Northeast Initiative Encouraging Grass-based Farming System
The New England Livestock Alliance (NELA) and American Farmland Trust have joined forces on a new initiative to encourage more farmers in the region to raise natural beef for premium consumer markets. This fall, staff are meeting with farmers and landowners throughout New England, Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland to find grass-based grazing operations, as well as those who would like to get into the business. The goal of the program is to increase profitability for livestock producers and to supply consumers with quality, natural beef products raised by local farmers. For more information about raising natural beef, contact Bryan Petrucci at firstname.lastname@example.org or (815) 753-9351 ext. 273 or Matt Leroux at (413) 443-8356 ext. 275.
$10,000 AFT Steward of the Land Award Deadline Extended to Dec. 1
Don’t miss this opportunity to reward a farmer or rancher who is a great steward of the land. Don’t you know a farmer who deserves to win $10,000? American Farmland Trust has extended its deadline for nominations until Dec. 1, 2004. Deserving farmers and ranchers have done all the hard work—filling out the nomination form is easy.
News Briefs from Around the Country
The planned high-speed "bullet train" could transform California’s Central Valley into a sprawling suburb if there isn’t better planning to encourage more efficient development and reduce farmland loss.
USDA's implementation of the "regional equity" provision in the 2002 Farm Bill resulted in a doubling of federal conservation funds for New England.New York announced it will provide $13 million to farmers for air pollution abatement and odor control through the creation of its new Environmental Farm Assistance and Resource Management Program (E-FARM).In Indiana, owners placed a conservation easement on a farm in Sand Creek Township that has been farmed by the same family since its original charter by President James Monroe in 1822.Do you know a county official who exemplifies innovation and excellence in land conservation? If so, consider nominating that person—or their county program—for the County Leadership in Conservation Award, sponsored by The Trust for Public Land, the National Association of Counties and partners. The deadline for nominations is November 19, 2004.
The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association holds its 19th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference on November 12-14, 2004 in Asheville, North Carolina.