Get the Dirt on Eco-eating, Pledge for Local Food, and Make a Smart Plan for Your Land

American Farmland Trust
American Farmland Trust

E-News August 6, 2008

Welcome to the August edition of American Farmland Trust's monthly E-newsletter, featuring the latest on agriculture and the environment, farm and ranch land protection, planning for agriculture, local food and more.

Tax Savings for Landowners Who Save the Land

Father and Son on Hay
More than half of U.S. land is privately owned—much of it farmed—so tax incentives for land protection could significantly boost efforts to save farms across the country. The 2008 Farm Bill extends substantial tax incentives for "qualified farmers and ranchers" who donate conservation easements. Qualified landowners can deduct the value of donated easements up to 100 percent of their adjusted gross income and carry the unused deduction forward. For the latest on tax incentives and other farm business and family transfer issues, see our updated Farm Transfer and Estate Planning (pdf) fact sheet and the 2008 Conservation Tax Update (pdf).

The Meat and Potatoes of Eco Eating: A Guide to Knowing Your Certifications

Healthy Grown Potatoes

Environmentally sustainable foods may be in everyone’s thoughts these days, but where do we find them and how do we know that they are eco-friendly? Look to the story of the eco-potato for one answer. Healthy Grown (pdf), the eco-potato label, ensures food is grown environmentally consciously. More and more producers are willing to accept the risks and tackle the efforts inherent in changing to environmental farming to qualify for the many certification programs. Some certifications even go beyond regulating chemical use by encouraging farmland protection measures and requiring sales to local markets (pdf).

Make a Difference for Farms, Take the Keep it Local Pledge

Grocery Store
If you aren’t enjoying all the freshest foods the summer has to offer, what are you waiting for? Farm fresh products are filling farmers markets and farm stands, and even restaurants and grocery stores are offering local options to meet growing demand from the growing local foods movement. But the farms and ranches that supply local markets are also some of the most threatened by development in the nation. Support your nearby farmers and ranchers by taking AFT’s Keep It Local pledge. We’ve already had over $13,000 pledged weekly to support locally grown food. Challenge yourself and your friends to buy locally and have fun uncovering what’s fresh near you! 

Much Ado Being Raised Over A Consequential Conservation Program

The Conservation Reserve Program protects environmentally fragile agricultural land by rewarding farmers with payments for removing the land from production and restoring it to grassland or other cover. The program, our nation's largest and most successful conservation effort aimed at the stewardship of sensitive lands, was recently under pressure to allow potentially millions of acres back into production—due to rising crop prices, floods and drought. In a commendable decision made by USDA Secretary Ed Schafer, requests for early release of land from the program were declined unless previous payments received for protecting the environmentally fragile acres were paid back.

Around the Country

Indiana receives a $250,000 grant for a Regional Sustainable Food Initiative.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture released a new report highlighting conservation achievements over the past year.

AFT’s Brian Brandt will “kick-off’ the Sauk River ecosystems services project in Minnesota this month.

American Farmland Trust's Ed Thompson is presenting the San Francisco Food Shed Study at the national Slow Food Nation change-makers day on the "No Farms No Food" panel in California this month.

Landmark local milk legislation (pdf) passed in Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

New Hampshire joins the movement to celebrate local farms and food with an Eat Local week.

A Farm Aid concert headlined by Willie Nelson and the Dave Matthews Band will be held in Massachusetts this year.

Three towns in Duchess County, New York are starting work on agriculture and farmland protection plans.


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