American Farmland Trust extends deepest sentiments to the people who have suffered loss due to Hurricane Katrina—including the many farmers whose crops were damaged or whose products typically are transported through New Orleans, a major U.S. trade hub. Our thoughts and best wishes are with all who have been touched by this devastating event.
Celebrating 25 Years of Saving the Land
American Farmland Trust (AFT) is celebrating 25 years of saving the land that sustains us! The 25th Anniversary Web page highlights your stories about farmland protection in the last quarter century and AFT's major achievements. It also gives you a peek at the people who make AFT tick. Take a look, share your story and celebrate with us!
Will Oregon's Property Rights Battle Impact Other States?
In November of 2004, voters in Oregon approved Measure 37, a sweeping property rights law that drastically limits the government's power to regulate land use. The measure lets certain property owners file claims against the state or local governments whenever land use or zoning regulations restrict how they can use their land, thereby reducing their property values. The measure could cripple Oregon's pioneering land use laws, which are hailed nationwide for controlling sprawl and protecting farmland. Many Oregon farmers are worried about the measure's impact on the viability of farming in the state, while conservation groups across the nation are concerned that similar measures could be adopted by other states.
Lancaster County Increases Support for Farmland Protection
Support for farms and farming continues to rise in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The county is developing a rural strategy squarely aimed at farmland protection and agricultural viability, a blue ribbon commission has identified techniques for making farming more profitable and county officials have issued a $25 million bond primarily for farmland protection. American Farmland Trust's consulting services team helped develop the land use plan's rural strategy and provided technical assistance and support for the on-the-ground efforts of the Blue Ribbon Commission and others interested in sustaining farmland and the agricultural industry in Lancaster County.
Back to School with Locally Grown Foods
More than 200 universities and 400 school districts across the nation will serve locally grown food in their cafeterias this year. New York, Florida, Kentucky and North Carolina have state-level farm-to-school programs to provide educational opportunities for students, build connections with local farms and motivate children towards lifelong healthier eating habits. California has a farm-to-school bill in the legislature and many communities without state legislation have started successful programs within their school systems.
Budget Reconciliation Threatens Conservation Programs
For the Congressional budget reconciliation process, due to be completed by September 15, 2005, the House and Senate agriculture committees must create $3 billion in savings over the next five years from programs under their jurisdiction. More than 220 conservation organizations, including American Farmland Trust (AFT), sent a letter to committee leaders urging them to protect incentive-based stewardship programs for farmers and ranchers. The Conservation Security Program, the nation's first comprehensive stewardship incentive program, will likely be the target of cuts. In its comments on the interim final rule, AFT urged the Natural Resources Conservation Service to implement the program in a manner that is national in scope, predictable and financially attractive to producers.
News Briefs from Around the Country
Many farmers and fishermen across the Gulf Region have been hit hard by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group has links to organizations providing disaster relief assistance to agricultural communities.
The Land Trust Alliance and the Trust for Public Land have published The Conservation Easement Handbook—an expanded revision of the 1988 original and a practical and technical resource on conservation easements and best practices for their use.
North Carolina passed its passed its first major changes to the state's Farmland Preservation Act since it was enacted in 1986.
Two farms in Onondaga County are permanently protected, thanks to funding from the New York State Farmland Protection Program and the federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program.
Kendall County, Illinois approved its Farmland Protection Ordinance—the first step in creating a purchase of development rights (PDR) program, which will be the second PDR program in the state.
The Sixth Annual Ohio Farmland Preservation Summit is set for November 10, 2005 and will feature keynote speaker Senator John Glenn.
Senator Kent Conrad announced that he is holding a national conference in North Dakota this fall on the future of agriculture.
Remember to bid with your lid! American Farmland Trust (AFT) was selected as one if three conservation organizations to receive a percentage of a $100,000 donation from Stonyfield Farm based on consumer voting. Vote for AFT today by logging on to www.stonyfield.com and entering one vote for AFT or collecting the limited edition lids from Stonyfield Farm Yogurt Cups and mailing them (with your name and address, AND indicating your vote for AFT) to: Stonyfield Farm, PO Box 4840, Manchester, NH 03108-4840. Each lid equals one vote for AFT.