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E-News April 18, 2006


Visit the New AFT Web Site!

American Farmland Trust is pleased to announce the launch of our new online resource for everyone concerned about the loss of farm and ranch land in America. It’s the same name but a brand new look! As we continue our work to protect the best land, plan for agriculture and keep the land healthy, http://www.farmland.org/ will serve as an online destination for those interested in both our work and the issues we work on. Our new site offers the latest news, research, available services, studies and other resources, information about our farm policy campaign, “AFT in Your State,” RSS feeds, action alerts and opportunities to get involved. 

Central Valley’s Cities and Counties Failing to Save Farmland

CA Orchard-Photo by Gordon CinnamondMost of the counties and major cities in the Central Valley are failing to make significant progress at preserving farmland in the nation’s most important agricultural region, according to the new American Farmland Trust (AFT) study, The Future is Now: Central Valley Farmland at the Tipping Point? “Though local land use plans are well-intentioned, the best farmland is being paved over the fastest, and the land is being developed very inefficiently in terms of the amount of land used for each new resident,” said Edward Thompson, Jr., AFT’s California director. “It’s a waste of a precious resource.” 

Bainbridge Island: A Farmland Protection Model for Urbanizing Communities

Bainbridge Island, just a short ferry ride from downtown Seattle, has a rich agricultural historybut the island’s farmland base has declined to several hundred acres. To protect their farmland and keep it economically viable, the city of Bainbridge contracted AFT to complete An Assessment and Recommendations for Preservation and Management of City-owned Agricultural Land [PDF]. AFT’s report analyzed the key public benefits and values of the island’s farmland, evaluated models for protecting the island’s agricultural properties and made recommendations to help improve the viability and long-term prospects for farms.

AFT Urges More Funding for Farmers’ Market Programs

California Farmers Market - USDA PhotoConsumer demand for fresh, locally grown products has sparked a renewed interest in direct markets among producers. More farmers and ranchers are selling directly to consumers and businesses, and sales figures at many of the nation’s 3,900 farmers’ markets continue to rise. The USDA recently announced $1 million in competitive grants under the Farmers Markets Promotion Program (FMPP) to help promote direct markets. American Farmland Trust has long supported our nation’s farmers’ markets and joined forces with 33 other groups to send a letter to House Appropriators urging them to fund the FMPP at $5 million in FY 07.

Stonyfield Farm "CE-Yo" Featured Speaker at AFT's 2006 National Conference

Gary Hirshberg, co-founder, president and "CE-Yo" of Stonyfield Farm, the world's largest manufacturer of organic yogurt, will be a featured speaker at "Farming on the Edge: The Next Generation." Under Hirshberg’s guidance, Stonyfield Farm has reached $210 million in annual sales, while earning a reputation as a socially and environmentally responsible business. Hirshberg will provide insights on the future of agriculture from his perspective as a corporate leader and conservationist. For more information or to submit a workshop proposal, e-mail Doris Mittasch.

Around the Country

The Georgia Senate approved the Georgia Land Conservation Tax Credit legislation on March 1 by unanimous vote.

American Farmland Trust is sponsoring "Visions of the Federal Farm Bill" in Moses Lake, Washington on April 20.

Pennsylvania will have about $150 million for farmland preservation, the largest amount ever allocated to help farmers protect vital agricultural land.

The city of Kannapolis, North Carolina sold 2000 farm acres to the Land Trust of Central North Carolina; 1000 acres of the prime farmland will continue to be farmed by the ten families who have farmed it for decades under long-term leases.

American Farmland Trust’s Director of Technical Assistance Services, Julia Freedgood, will be presenting “Next Generation Growth Management Plans” on April 25 at the American Planning Association Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

The University of Wyoming’s Wyoming Open Spaces Initiative is presenting “Growing Pains: Planning for Wyoming's Changing Communities and Landscapes” May 9-10 in Cheyenne.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner announced that USDA’s Farm Service Agency will allocate close to $20.1 million in Emergency Conservation Program funding to 26 states affected by natural disasters.

The USDA announced more than $70 million in funding for 2006 to protect farm and ranch land in 50 states.

Smart Growth America released Smart Growth Shareware v.2, with road-tested presentations and materials by local and national leaders and organizations; immediately downloadable publications and fact sheets; and Web site links to over 100 additional resources. 

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