Welcome to the February
issue of E-news. Can't wait
until next month's E-news to hear more about farms, food, and the environment? Check
out our Farmland Report blog where we post
regular updates about our work across the country and in the nation's capital.
A Call to Farms!
Severe, disproportionate cuts to key state agricultural, environmental and nutrition programs are proposed in Governor Paterson’s 2010-11 State Budget. Some cuts would eliminate programs that strengthen our farm and food economy and protect natural resources. Drastic cuts to farmland protection funding could prevent any new projects from being funded for two years or more! Funding for farm, farmland and local food programs represent less than one percent of the state’s $130 billion budget. There are better solutions to our budget woes than cutting programs that invest in our farm and food system, which contributes over $23 billion to our state economy annually. These cuts are not inevitable – you can help get the No Farms No Food message out!
No Farms No Food Lobby Day March 15th
Join American Farmland Trust at the Capitol to lobby for funding to
protect farmland, help farmers preserve clean water, increase access to
local foods and strengthen economic opportunities for farms. RSVP by
e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call (518) 581-0078 ext. 302.
Helping Farmers Keep Water Clean
We are bringing a new program to New York to help farmers protect water quality. The Best Management Practices (BMP) Challenge program will reduce financial risks for farmers that adopt conservation practices, such as reducing fertilizer use. Farmers will work with crop consultants to reduce fertilizer use on corn crops and be compensated for any potential decrease in production. Thanks to the New York Farm Viability Institute and Natural Resources Conservation Service, we have the funding to enroll up to 30 New York corn growers and up to 3,000 acres of cropland. For more information contact: Judy Wright, email@example.com, (315) 730-4505.
Plowing Ahead: Farmland Preservation in 2010 and Beyond
A special invitation to farmers, conservationists, town officials, anti-hunger advocates, locavores, chefs, and all supporters of farmland preservation in Connecticut. Join us for WLA’s tenth anniversary to examine the past decade of progress and help craft a vision for our work during the next 10 years at our conference on Saturday March 27th at Kroon Hall, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, New Haven. Download a registration form and get conference details. A special thanks to our 18 sponsors, including our lead sponsor the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Register Online Today!
Massachusetts Approves Farmland Protection Program Regulations
enthusiastic about the recent completion of regulations for the Massachusetts
Agricultural Preservation Restriction program. The regulations define various
easement terms, spell out the process for application consideration and
evaluation, and address how requests from
landowners for approval of agricultural activities and special permits will be
handled. "These regulations are welcome news,”
said Cris Coffin,
AFT’s New England Director, “farmers need to trust the Agricultural
Preservation Restriction Program—to know what the
rules are and how they will be applied—in order to be comfortable enrolling
their land in it. These new rules should increase that comfort level
considerably, which we hope will lead to more participation in the program and
more farmland protected.”
Securing the Next Generation of Maryland Farmers
A popular farm expression says the only way to acquire farmland is to marry into it or inherit it. In Maryland, the Estate Tax Bill will help the latter happen more frequently by enabling farm families to retain their land—an important step to help the next generation keep farming so Maryland agriculture can continue its prominent place in the state's economy. Investing in the next generation helps communities protect a vital asset and avoid costs from development such as roads, fire and rescue and public facilities.
Virginia Grown Food Is on the Menu
bills currently in the Virginia State House of Representatives will encourage
state agencies, institutions and school districts to purchase Virginia-grown
food. One bill relaxes bid requirements to facilitate local food purchases
by public schools, while the second calls
for institutional purchases to include nutrition standards and recommends the
use of Virginia-grown food.
Catching the Farm Conservation Practices that Fall Through the Cracks
massive effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay
unfolds, it’s become apparent that how we currently measure agriculture’s
efforts for cleaning up pollution isn’t giving us the whole picture. Right
now only conservation practices that are paid for by a state or federal program
are recorded—but farmers are also adopting practices on their own or with
funding from nonprofits. These practices include no-till, cover crops, stream
fencing, reduced use of fertilizer, etc. Across the region, producers and state agencies are calling for a full accounting of agriculture’s contribution as pollution limits are set. In Virginia, Senator Emmitt Hanger has introduced a bill to develop a statewide database of all the healthy farming practices to ensure farmers get the credit they deserve.
Dedicating Space for Farming
Last summer Wisconsin scored a victory for farms and farmland with the Working Lands Initiative, which helps farmers protect their land through a purchase of agricultural conservation easement program and new Agricultural Enterprise Areas. Agricultural Enterprise Areas are contiguous blocks of land dedicated to agricultural uses. Now the first applications for the new Agriculture Enterprise Areas have been submitted to the state, starting the process of targeting state incentives to promoting farming operations in Wisconsin.
Washington Farmland Protection Progress Reports
The Washington State Office of Farmland Preservation
recently published two helpful new products of its work and of the work of the
Washington Farmland Preservation Task Force. The first is their 2009
Report to the Washington
Conservation Commission, which nicely lays out the state’s challenges in
protecting agriculture and the resources available to address them. The other
excellent publication is a new “Washington State Farmland Preservation
Indicators” booklet, which provides an excellent, up-to-date list of
measures that indicate how well we are doing in preserving agriculture.
Guide Helps Fruit, Vegetable and Nut Growers Adopt Healthy Farming Practices
Our new Guide to Beneficial Management Practices for California Specialty Crops outlines practices that fruit, vegetable and nut growers can use to reduce pollution, conserve water and energy, improve wildlife habitat and moderate climate change. The interactive guide matches California's leading crops with specific farming practices, their environmental benefits and sources of funding to pay for their use. Lincoln "Ed" Burton, California State Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, said, “American Farmland Trust has done a real service by collecting this much information in one easy-to-use document. It should help encourage more widespread use of beneficial management practices.” NRCS is the source of many of the beneficial management practices highlighted in the new guide.
Can Vacant Lots Grow into Farms and Help Green America's Troubled Urban Economies?
With scores of foreclosures and a mounting supply of vacant urban lots, the establishment of urban farms is gaining momentum, not only with community-based organizations but also with entrepreneurs who have an eye on greener economies for struggling cities. In New Orleans, rental property owners who couldn't rebuild after Katrina opted to lease their land for the Villere Urban Farm project, which is growing produce for the local neighborhood. The ambitious, for-profit Hantz Farms venture in Detroit plans to convert more than 70 acres of underutilized vacant lands and abandoned properties on the city's lower east side to grow local fruit, vegetables and trees. These city-based "farmland reclamation" efforts join the ranks of established programs such as Greensgrow Farm in Philadelphia and Growing Power in Milwaukee.
President Slashes Conservation Funding in FY2011 Budget
“At a time when we most need to invest in our strategic natural resources and keep them healthy for the future, the President has proposed cuts to key farmland preservation, conservation, and water quality programs,” says our president, Jon Scholl. If accepted by Congress, the President’s proposed budget would cut approximately 20 percent from working lands conservation programs that were promised under the 2008 Farm Bill. Cuts include the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Conservation Security Program. On a positive note, the administration is building on new programs that develop local and regional food systems.
Vote for Our Idea for Change!
Help us put farmland
protection, the promotion of healthy farming practices and support for farmers
and ranchers on every state's agenda
and make it a key priority in national farm policy. Vote for our "Idea
for Change" and join the movement to save the land that sustains us! The top 10
voted ideas will be presented at an event in Washington, D.C.
and promoted to more than one million people.
Around the Country