Progress Report: Our Work Around the Country for Farms, Food, and the Environment

American Farmland Trust
American Farmland Trust
E-news Special Holiday Edition

Welcome to your special December edition of E-news. In this issue we wanted to say thank you for all your support and provide you with some good news about the work we have accomplished together in 2009.

New York

Looking Back on a Year of Protecting Local Farms


Both feast and famine have marked 2009. Consumer attention to our food supply has grown tremendously with the local food movement, leading to important economic opportunities for farmers and strengthening resolve to protect the farmland needed for a local food supply. However, our dairy farmers are struggling with very difficult economic conditions and local governments and the State of New York face severe fiscal problems that have threatened the funding needed to protect farmland and invest in our farm and food system.

In the 2009 legislative session, American Farmland Trust led the effort to protect 27 farms and almost 9,000 acres of farmland by securing $23 million for New York State’s Farmland Protection Program. Towns, counties and land trusts across the state will have the opportunity use these dollars to purchase development rights on farms in their areas. We’re glad to have played the lead role in securing the millions of dollars in funds that our local partners depend upon to do their valuable work and are prepared to continue the fight for farmland protection funds in 2010.

Over the past year we’ve worked intensively with 15 progressive towns in the Hudson Valley as well as Central and Western New York that are among the first in the state to develop local agricultural and farmland protection plans. In March, we held Planning for Farms, Food and Energy in Central New York, our 6th conference in the last four years aimed at helping communities take action to support local farmers and protect irreplaceable farmland. Our Fall Webinar Series continues to help people tackle the challenges of protecting farmland and strengthening the viability of local farms in a tough economy.

would like to thank all of you who have worked with us over the past year to fight for policies and funding in the state legislature, assist towns and counties in taking action to support local farms and shape a brighter future for farms in New York. We couldn’t have done it without you.

~ David Haight, New York Director

New England

Collaborating to Sustain Farms and Farmland in New England

New York Apples 

This year has been one of exciting collaborations and strengthened partnerships—teaming up with public health and anti-hunger organizations to advance a Massachusetts Food Policy Council; joining forces with affordable housing, historic preservation and land conservation partners to fight cuts to Connecticut’s Community Investment Act; and helping to develop a six-state Farm and Food Security Plan. We’re also helping communities find ways to sustain local farms and farmland.

We thank all of you who have worked so hard this year—from town halls to state legislatures to Congress—to advance policies and programs in support of our region’s farms, farm families, and working lands. We value your enthusiasm, dedication and support, and wish you good cheer this Holiday Season.

~ Cris Coffin, New England Director

Chesapeake Bay (MD, PA)

Helping Chesapeake Bay Keep Farms for the Future

Pennsylvania Farm in Mist 

Here in the Chesapeake region, citizens have long known the value of farmland for its economic, community and historic value. The growing local foods movement is certainly highlighting how much value the public gets from having thriving farms. As a supporter of American Farmland Trust and subscriber to our e-newsletter, you are helping us work with farmers, policy makers, and environmental advocates to clean up the Bay. Thank you for all that you have done over the past year to help support the environmental stewardship of farmers in the Chesapeake Bay.

I hope that you and many others will continue to join us in supporting farmers in the Chesapeake Bay and ensuring that there are sensible policies and funding in place to improve water quality without putting more “For Sale” signs on farm gates across the watershed. Thank you and Happy Holidays

~ Jim Baird, Mid-Atlantic Field Director  


A New Paradigm: Farmland Conservation = Prosperity in the Pacific Northwest

Washington State Farm in front of Mt. Baker 

As northwesterners, we see our region as a prosperous, dynamic center of economic activity, innovation and international trade at the cutting edge of new technology. We also deeply value the relatively unspoiled natural resources in our lush and environmentally diverse part of the world. And farmland conservation can be the key for our region to thrive both economically and environmentally. Thank you for your interest and support this past year as we’ve laid the groundwork for farmers to profitably grow healthy food and protect the land while producing cleaner water, cleaner air and wildlife habitat—linking regional prosperity and conservation for a more sustainable future. 

~ Don Stuart, Pacific Northwest Director


Making Progress Saving the Golden State’s Irreplaceable Farmland

California Hot Air Balloon Over Farmland 

This year has been a challenging one for our nation and, especially, for California. But despite the economy and a continuing drought, we made significant progress at saving the Golden State’s irreplaceable farmland and assuring the future of its world class agriculture.

In the San Joaquin Valley, officials adopted an American Farmland Trust-championed blueprint for future growth that will reduce the loss of farmland to urban sprawl by at least 150,000 acres. Along with our nonprofit partners in Climate Plan we convinced state lawmakers set a target for greenhouse gas reduction through more efficient land use that will encourage local governments to reduce farmland loss as well. Our San Francisco foodshed report led Mayor Gavin Newsom to convene a blue ribbon task force that recommended strategies for conserving the Bay Area’s farmland as a source of local food. And the state Board of Food & Agriculture commissioned American Farmland Trust to lead California Agriculture Vision, a process designed to lead to a statewide strategic plan for agriculture that will address land use, water, environmental, economic and food access issues.

None of this would have been possible without American Farmland Trust’s many supporters in the nation’s leading farm state. So, from the bottom of our heart, thanks and stay tuned for more successes in the coming year!

~ Ed Thomspon, California Director & Senior Associate

Main Stories


Man Carrying Fresh Vegetables 
Helping Farmers and Communities Grow Local

As the popularity of local food soars, meeting the demand requires more farms, more farmland, and more farmers growing local food. In 2009 we worked in several of the country’s most metropolitan areas to help local farms thrive.

Learn about what we did to help farmers and communities grow local and tell us what you think!

Farm on a River in Fall 
Growing a Future for Conservation

This has has been an exciting year for farmers who provide environmental benefits through their land stewardship. Farmers now have more options for environmentally sound practices to protect our drinking water and wildlife habitat —and real progress has been made towards a legislative solution to address climate change in a way that rewards farmers who are helping to clean up the atmosphere.

Learn about what we did to grow a future for farm and farmland conservation and tell us what you think!

New England Farm
Protecting Our Most Precious Resource: Our Working Lands

Over the last three decades we have helped 27 states and hundreds of local communities create and improve programs to protect farmland from sprawling development. In 2009 we continued to press forward on the national and regional levels to protect farmland from development forever.

Learn about what we did this year to protect our nation’s working lands and tell us what you think!

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