Excited about local food? You’re not the only one! Watch our special Farmcast video interview with Pablo Elliot, Director of the Local Food Project at the Airlie Center in Virginia. The Local Food Project started in 1998 and its success is growing. This organic culinary garden was created to supply fresh, sustainable herbs, vegetables and flowers to Airlie’s kitchen, as well as to demonstrate the benefits of supporting local food systems.
Good News for Harry and David, Clean Water and Local Farmers
The 24,000 acres of orchards in the mid-Columbia region of Oregon supply some of the luscious fruit shipped by Harry and David. To meet the increased demand for pesticide-free produce, growers in the region are participating in an AFT-EPA program to reduce the amount of pesticides applied to their orchards [PDF]. “We’re excited to see that almost 90 percent of the surveyed farmers in the program are using fewer pesticides than they did just a few years ago,” said AFT’s Pacific Northwest Director Don Stuart. “It shows a holistic approach can work to produce healthy food, protect drinking water and ensure a future for local farms.”
New Online Archive Makes Conservation Leader’s Wisdom Available
“Norm Berg has devoted his life to the conservation of land and water—not only in this country, but all over the world,” said President Jimmy Carter in 1991. “He has helped thousands of farmers and government officials protect and improve the nation’s agricultural resources.” AFT’s new Norm Berg Special Collection is an online archive of documents by and about the nationally acclaimed conservationist [PDF] whose far-reaching career began at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and spans seven decades. At the collection’s core are nearly 200 speeches and articles written by Berg when he was at the helm of the future Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). He continues his conservation calling today, at nearly 90 years old, through his work with AFT and the Soil and Water Conservation Society.
Nominate an Extraordinary Farmer or Rancher for Our $10,000 Award
AFT is now accepting nominations for our 2008 Steward of the Land Award. The annual $10,000 prize honors farmers and ranchers who best exemplify AFT’s mission of halting the loss of productive farmland and promoting farming practices that sustain a healthy environment. “AFT’s Steward of the Land Award winners have shown by example the many different ways that farmers and ranchers can be successful in agriculture and still be in harmony with the land,” says AFT President Ralph Grossi. Nomination forms can be completed online or printed out and mailed to AFT’s national office in D.C. before Monday, December 3, 2007. We look forward to hearing from you and may the best steward win!
Senate Begins Work on Farm Bill
The Senate Finance Committee will be meeting today to determine how much money will be allocated to the 2007 Farm Bill. While it appears that the Finance Committee has developed a tax reform package that will free up money for conservation programs, there is the possibility that the Senate Agriculture Committee (which could meet as soon as two weeks from now) could divert those funds to other priorities like commodity payments or disaster assistance. AFT urges everyone to monitor the latest developments and make their voices heard by signing up for AFT's Action Network.
Around the Country
In Michigan, Monroe County adopted a farmland preservation ordinance that will make the county eligible for state Agricultural Preservation Fund grants.
Be sure to register for this year’s Ohio Farmland Preservation Summit, “Growing our Economy Through Agriculture,” to be held on November 1, 2007.
The first agricultural conservation easement in Florida was recently completed—to protect a 462-acre Sexton ranch on the east coast of the state that is home to endangered plants and wildlife.
AFT has signed on to a letter to the U.S. Senate encouraging a permanent extension of the new tax incentive for donations of conservation easements.
New York’s Department of Agriculture and Markets released the Request for Proposals for municipal agriculture and farmland protection planning grants.
A broad coalition is lining up behind passage of Oregon’s Ballot Measure 49.
Virginia Governor Tim Kaine has been urged to include $100 million a year in the state budget to fully fund programs that help farmers reduce runoff pollution into Virginia rivers, streams and the Chesapeake Bay.