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National Survey Demonstrates Landowner Satisfaction with FRPP
The federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) is protecting active farmland and helping farmers reinvest in their agricultural enterprises, according to a recent survey of program participants. The first national study of the program, conducted under the direction of American Farmland Trust, found that most farmers participating in the program were willing to recommend that other owners sell their development rights. For a summary of the survey, click here.

The Art of Farm Stewardship
Maryhill Museum PaintingIn an innovative new art project in the Pacific Northwest, farmers honored for their environmental practices were matched with local artists for an exhibit about the art of farm stewardship. The project is a partnership between American Farmland Trust (AFT) and the Maryhill Museum of Art in Goldendale, Washington, where the exhibit opens on March 15, 2006. “If people can see an artist’s rendition of how a farmer has dealt with soil erosion or how he has preserved wildlife habitat on the farm, maybe the fact that it’s a little different will make that message stick,” said Don Stuart, AFT’s Pacific Northwest director.

Budget Receives Mixed Reviews While Congress Talks of Extending 2002 Farm Bill
USDA Secretary Mike Johanns recently testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture to make the case for the president’s FY 07 budget, which has received mixed reviews from members of Congress and the agricultural community. In response to the proposal, members of the House Committee on Agriculture sent a letter [PDF] to their colleagues on the House Committee on Budget urging them to refrain from making additional changes to agricultural programs that are set to expire in 2007. Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, many members of Congress are beginning to discuss the possibility of extending the 2002 Farm Bill for one or two years. They believe that U.S. farm policy should not be revised until the current round of WTO negotiations is complete, but the leadership still appears committed to having a 2007 Farm Bill. [Read More]

AFT’s 2006 National Conference to Feature Author Michael Fields of Plenty CoverAbleman
American Farmland Trust's fourth national conference, "Farming on the Edge: the Next Generation," will feature keynote speaker Michael Ableman, farmer, educator, photographer, writer and founder and executive director of the Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens. In his book Fields
of Plenty: a Farmer’s Search for Real Food and the People Who Grow It
(Chronicle Books, 2005), Ableman traveled cross-country, listening to America’s farmers and hoping to find answers to questions relevant to the next generation. "Farming on the Edge: the Next Generation" will be November 13-15, 2006, at the University of Delaware's Clayton Hall Conference Center. For more information or to submit a workshop proposal, e-mail Doris Mittasch.

Avoiding Capital Gains Tax with 1031—Best Thing Since Sliced Bread?
Easement-protected agricultural land may be exchanged for an interest in other agricultural land under section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code. Like-kind exchanges, as 1031s are sometimes called, are popular among farmers who have sold agricultural easements—program participants use the exchanges to acquire more land without realizing capital gains tax on the proceeds from easement sales. Some state farm bureaus, such as Pennsylvania, support like-kind exchanges, saying the provision helps older farmers and provides an added incentive to sell easements. Others question whether 1031 is wholly to blame for rising land prices or just a contributing factor. Recent proposals brought by the Illinois Farm Bureau to the American Farm Bureau Federation recommended changes calling for more flexibility in like-kind exchanges as a way to reduce impacts on farm property prices and still retain incentives for landowners.

News Briefs from Around the Country
Suffolk County, New York preservation programs acquired 1,200 acres for farmland, open space and groundwater protection in 2005.

Pennsylvania governor Edward G. Rendell released a record amount of $102 million in state funds and $45 million in matching money under his $625 million Growing Greener II initiative, which will allow for the preservation of an additional 2,000 farms.

The Georgia Conservation Tax Credit Act, which gives state income tax credits to those who agree to donate property for conservation purposes, passed through both the House and Senate unanimously and is awaiting the governor’s signature.

Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm directed government departments to purchase Michigan products first, including Michigan grown products from food producers.

The Florida legislature is considering reforms to tighten the 1959 law that provides tax breaks for farmland.

According to a Partners for Open Space poll, Marylanders strongly support a proposal being considered by the state legislature to repay $70 million to the Open Space Fund.

American Farmland Trust is sponsoring "Visions of the Federal Farm Bill" in Moses Lake, Washington to address questions about the 2007 Farm Bill.

Farmers in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin who grow corn for grain or silage are eligible to participate in American Farmland Trust and Agflex’s Nutrient BMP Challenge.

 


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