Steward of the Land Award Winner Helps Protect NYC Watershed
Dairy farmer Tom Hutson of DeLancey, New York has received AFT's 10th annual Steward of the Land Award for his leadership in land protection and environmental stewardship. Hutson was one of the first farmers to participate in pilot programs administered by the Watershed Agricultural Council (WAC) to reduce organic pollution in the Catskill/Delaware reservoir systems, which provide drinking water for millions of residents of the metropolitan New York City area. AFT's Steward of the Land Award honors the memory of Peggy McGrath Rockefeller, an avid farmer and conservationist who founded AFT.
Federal Appropriations Bill Addresses Farmland Protection
The House and Senate each are moving forward with their respective versions of the FY 07 agricultural spending bill. Unfortunately, both bills propose further reductions in funding for mandatory conservation programs, at a time when conservation programs are facing extensive backlogs. However, the Senate version of the bill increases funding for the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) [PDF] over the amount allocated in the House bill. The Senate version also includes language intended to prevent NRCS from instituting several proposed changes to the program.
AFT's National Conference, Farming on the Edge: The Next Generation - November 13-15, 2006
Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program Provides Public Benefits for Local Communities
The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) is a voluntary federal conservation program that provides matching funds to eligible entities to buy permanent conservation easements on farm and ranch land. AFT recently completed an evaluation of the effectiveness of the program, which found that the program successfully protects working agricultural land and helps to provide important public benefits for local communities. Farmers and ranchers who currently participate in the program were surveyed; more than 20 percent said that products from their protected land were sold locally or marketed directly to consumers. Ninety-one percent said their easement-protected land could be viewed from public land or from a body of water used by the general public. Nearly half (48 percent) of respondents said that people outside the family used easement-protected land for recreation in the past year.
The Organic Fast Track
Organic food is a growing trend, with sales of organic foods hitting nearly $14 billion in 2005. This represents 2.5 percent of all retail sales of food, according to the Organic Trade Association. Non-food product categories such as personal care, flowers, pet food, clothing, household cleaners and nutritional supplements have even greater growth percentages than food products. AFT's farm policy campaign promotes new market opportunities for farm products and encourages entrepreneurial innovation for profitability, which could help America's agricultural industry meet future supply demands for organic products.
Around the Country
Voters in California wine country's Napa County rejected a "takings" initiative that would have undermined the ability of local communities to regulate land use and protect farmland and the environment.
The Maryland Agricultural Commission presented Agriculture Secretary Lewis Riley with the statewide strategic plan for the future of agriculture, "A Statewide Plan for Agricultural Policy and Resource Management."
The New York state legislative session closed June 22 with the legislature and Governor Pataki agreeing to a $225 million Environmental Protection Fund, including $23 million for farmland protection projects.
AFT's seventh annual Celebration in Saratoga Springs will be held on Saturday, July 29, 2006 at the Saratoga Golf and Polo Club in Saratoga Springs, New York.
AFT is consulting with other agricultural organizations to formulate a rational position concerning Washington Initiative 933.
Boone [PDF] and McHenry join Kane and Kendall counties in Illinois in passing farmland protection ordinances.
USDA awarded nearly $20 million in conservation innovation grants to 38 states to fund 66 conservation and sustainability projects.
Bob Wagner, AFT's Managing Director for Field Programs, was on National Public Radio this month, discussing Florida's disappearing farmland.