Gains in the Farm Bill, Organic Produce and Conservation, Sustainable Schoolyards and more

American Farmland Trust
American Farmland Trust

E-News June 12, 2008

Welcome to the June edition of American Farmland Trust's monthly E-news, featuring the latest on farm and ranch land protection, environmentally responsible farming, planning for agriculture, local food and more.

The Farm Bill Passes, What’s Next for Farm and Food Policy?

Girl picking potato blossoms
Big gains for farmland protection in the new farm bill.
Congress enacted the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 with significant gains for conservation programs and other improvements. The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program nearly doubled and conservation dollars will be better leveraged to protect the environment and keep our water clean. Additionally, real progress in government support programs was made with the inclusion of the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program, billed by some as the base for future reform.

We didn’t achieve as much reform nor secure as much funding as we set out to do. But we've come a long way. However, there’s still more to do on this farm bill to secure the gains we've made through the rulemaking and appropriations process. We'll also continue to move the goals of our farm and food policy agenda forward through efforts on climate change, water quality, local foods, transportation and other related legislation.

100 Types of Organic Vegetables on 400 Responsibly Managed Acres

Nash Huber 2008 Steward of The Land Award RecipientNash Huber, American Farmland Trust's 2008 Steward of the Land, grows organic food year-round in the Dungeness River Valley on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, where his farm, certified "salmon safe," sells directly to the public at Nash's Farm Store, local restaurants, farmers' markets and through a CSA.  He is the first farmer in Washington state and the first organic vegetable farmer to receive the prestigious $10,000 award, which recognizes leadership in protecting agricultural land, local food and the environment. Nash has worked with conservation organizations in his community to save hundreds of acres of local farmland and leases much of his acreage from neighbors who have conservation easements on their land to guarantee that food will always grow there. 

Sustainable Schoolyards Point the Way to Local Food and Farms

Girl Holding Green Beans Copyright Sharon DanksSchoolyards across the country are being transformed into outdoor learning environments to help teach children about healthy living and sustainable communities. At the U.S. Botanic Garden's new One Planet - Ours! exhibit, a model Sustainable Schoolyard demonstrates the connectivity and multiple benefits of ecological design, renewable energy systems, environmentally responsible water systems and healthy food grown on nearby local farms. The exhibit, which is free to the public and open until mid-October, includes features that are already present in schools and can be easily replicated. Visit the Sustainable Schoolyard this summer and see how edibles such as corn, beans and berries made their way from the farm to a new kind of schoolyard!  

Good things Come in Threes? Try a Threefold Approach to Improving Water Quality

Bridge Over Chesapeake BayFrom the Puget Sound to the Chesapeake Bay, when looking below the surface to where a major river meets the sea you find a common problem: Americans are overloading our waterways with polluting nutrients. To clean up our water, we need to reduce nutrients at their sources: farmland runoff of fertilizers and manure, overburdened municipal sewage systems, and the great American lawn where fertilizers drain into the waterways.

How you can help:

  1. Learn how Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia are leading the national effort for change.
  2. Encourage farmers to adopt Best Management Practices.
  3. Take tips from a farmer by using sustainable landscaping techniques.

Around the Country

New York farmers urged the state to pass a Healthy Foods Act. 

Bartow County, Georgia, is the first county in the nation to address the environmental impact of public and private activities with an Environmental Management System. 

In California, Fresno County is considering a series of overlapping planning and policy initiatives that will have a sweeping impact on its ability to remain the nation’s leading agricultural county. 

Iowa passed bill SF-587 providing income tax credits for conservation easements 

A new law in Hawaii allows farmers to receive tax credit in 2008 for donating land for conservation easements.

The USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service announced $5 million in conservation innovation grants for organizations working directly with farmers to protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Copyright 2006, American Farmland Trust. All rights reserved.
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