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E-News November 10, 2006

Voters Across the Nation Could Choose Conservation

On November 7, a number of municipalities around the nation will vote on ballot measures that, if approved, could provide critical funding for clean water, open space and farmland protection. California, for instance, will vote on Prop 84, a $5 billion bond to protect drinking water, natural landscapes and the coastline. Voters in Montana’s Missoula and Ravalli counties each could approve $10 million for the preservation of open space, including agricultural land. Leelanau County, Michigan, will decide on a measure that would create a local funding source to match state and federal farmland protection grants. And residents of Shelton, Connecticut, will vote on purchasing development rights to the historic Jones Family Farm.

Harvesting Advice on Protecting Farms

Wisconsin farmIt isn’t called the “Ultimate Farmland Protection Tour” for nothing. Once you’ve been on AFT's five-day rolling bus tour through Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, you become a lifelong advocate for saving  farmland. Tour participants visit with farmers, local officials and developers to learn first hand about successful growth management and farmland protection programs. A recent group visiting from Wisconsin even brought their Agriculture Secretary Rod Nilsestuen. Nilsestuen says, “By any measure the tour was successful. It empowered almost 50 folks from Wisconsin to begin to effectively address preservation of our working lands and agricultural economy.”

New Guide for Landowners in Ohio Ohio Landowners Guide

The Ohio Agricultural Landowners Guide is available to farmers who want to conserve and protect their land. The 16-page full-color guide summarizes a full range of federal conservation programs, state farmland preservation options and assorted local initiatives. In a series of 10 “Traveling Toolbox” workshops around Ohio, AFT will distribute the guide, informing landowners about their options and encouraging them to get involved in state and local efforts that affect land-use policy.

Working the Bugs Out of the System

AFT is working with Michigan State University to develop simple environmental measurements that growers can use to gauge the ecological health of their orchards. The concept is simple: if we treat orchards only when necessary to control insects, weeds and plant diseases—in addition to using materials that don't hurt the environment (Integrated Pest Management)—the soil, ground cover, trees and entire orchard environment should stabilize at a healthy level. Those measurements, in turn, will help growers coordinate their management practices and use fewer pesticides. Eventually, we may be able to use these measurements to award growers with conservation program “green payments” for the progress they make in improving the environment.

Know the Facts on Conservation Easements

American Farmland Trust advanced farm and ranch land protection at the 2006 Land Trust Alliance Rally during our all-day seminar, "Preserving Working Landscapes", where strategies were recommended for effectively partnering with agricultural landowners. Participants received practical advice on funding acquisitions, drafting ag-friendly easements and managing a stewardship program--along with the newly updated Agricultural Conservation Easements Fact Sheet and AFT's 2006 tax update [PDF].

Around the Country

Last chance to register for AFT’s National Conference November 13-15.

Harrison County, Indiana, created the state’s first county-sponsored Purchase of Development Rights program.

The California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley has concluded a year-long inquiry into challenges facing the region, including the loss of agricultural land.

Farmers in Idaho have a new environmentally friendly alternative for protecting crops from pests and weeds.

The North Carolina Ag Advancement Consortium just released a report consisting of interviews with 20 farm leaders. The report looks at long-term trends and concerns about the future of agriculture, identifying farmland preservation as the number one theme.

Two new studies by researchers at Oregon State University and the University of Illinois show that America is experiencing a huge growth in the conservation of land by private trusts.

AFT’s Ralph Grossi was a keynote speaker earlier this week at Ohio’s Farmland Preservation Summit.

Vanishing Landscapes” of Southern Maryland is on display at CalvART Gallery.

Nominations are being accepted through December 1st for American Farmland Trust’s 2007 Steward of the Land Award.

A recent study shows that of the reasons for protecting ranchland open space in Routt County, Colorado, one of the highest values was placed on maintaining agriculture as part of the local economy.

We want your feedback! Please take a few minutes to fill out the user survey posted on American Farmland Trust’s national Farmland Information Center (FIC) Web site.

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