|Welcome to the June issue of E-news. Click
here to view a version of E-news on the web. 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.
Green Energy Meets Farmland
California has committed
to producing 33 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Windmills already dot the state with more to come, and dozens of large-scale
solar energy facilities are also being planned. Because many deserts and other uncultivated lands harbor endangered
or threatened species, they are not considered appropriate for solar facilities.
The challenge then is avoiding prime farmland in favor of land that is less
productive. Legislation sponsored by Senator Lois Wolk,
SB 618, would establish criteria for siting large-scale solar and other
renewable energy facilities on farmland. We have helped shape this legislation
and are working with the Brown Administration to assure that California can meet its future food and renewable
Canadian Agricultural Leader Visits Chesapeake Bay to Learn About Keeping Farms Viable While
Protecting the Environment
Merchant, Assistant Deputy Minister of Canada’s Agri-Environment Services
Branch (AESB) has embarked on a fact-finding mission to see how Canada
might learn from the successful Chesapeake Bay Program model
that has been operating here since the 1980s. He recently met with Jim Baird, our Mid-Atlantic Director, and Dennis Nuxoll, Managing Director of Federal Policy,
to discuss our efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay.
The meeting focused on three main themes: the need to work on common ground
issues with agricultural leaders who are developing innovative solutions; the
utility of an effective regulatory framework that addresses the unique concerns
of farming; and the need to build a culture of collaboration among farm and
New Study Calls for Better Tracking of
A committee of the
National Research Council has released a two-year evaluation of the Chesapeake
Bay Program, citing successes and challenges to the restoration approach. With 2025 set as the targeted reduction
date, significant changes need to occur throughout the watershed and throughout the partnership. The new two-year milestone system to focus efforts to better track conservation practices was signaled out for praise. Our BMP
Challenge program is one strategy currently being implemented to work
with farmers on lowering fertilizer usage on farmland, resulting in decreased
runoff and soil erosion.
Vision for Rhode Island
to Governor Lincoln Chafee and state lawmakers at Rhode Island’s
Agriculture Day in May, A Vision for Rhode
Island Agriculture: Five Year Strategic Plan culminates a year of outreach to Rhode Island’s diverse agricultural
community. More than 400 people participated in the planning process that
we facilitated to
identify opportunities and challenges for the state’s farming sector while developing
and prioritizing goals and strategies. Thanks to the leadership of the
Rhode Island Agricultural Partnership and the van Beuren Charitable Foundation,
Islanders now have a plan that lays out how consumers, communities, lawmakers
and state agencies can build a stronger and more resilient food system and farm
Connecticut Continues Its Commitment to
challenging economic climate, Governor Dannel Malloy and members of the
General Assembly demonstrated their strong commitment to farmland preservation
by authorizing $10 million per year in new bond funding for 2012 and 2013. This funding is needed to
maintain the increased pace of land protection under the state’s Farmland
Preservation Program, which is likely to protect more than 20 farms in 2011. As
the legislative session ended, state leaders also revised the Community
Investment Act to restore funding to the Farmland Preservation Program while
continuing the state’s safety net for dairy farmers.
Vermont Enacts Agricultural Jobs Bill
introduced by Governor Peter Shumlin to grow jobs in agriculture has been
enacted by the Vermont
legislature. House Bill 287
begins the process of addressing barriers and opportunities identified through Vermont’s Farm to Plate Strategic Plan. The bill creates a
grant program to help farmers obtain Good Agricultural Practice certification,
among other programs. Additionally,
it establishes a local food coordinator position and creates an education loan repayment program
for large animal vets.
With just a couple of days left in the 2011 session of the New York State Legislature, there are a
number of bills still pending that have the potential to generate new
opportunities to protect farmland, strengthen the Environmental Protection Fund
and enhance farm profitability. The bills proposed cover a broad range. One
bill is the Farmers Regulatory Relief Act. Another would transition bottle bill revenue to the Environmental Protection Fund and
the Farmers Regulatory Relief Act, while others would extend the ability of towns
to make installment payments to conserve farmland and allow the selling of wine
in grocery stores to raise money for farmland protection. As the legislative
session draws to a close, there are still
opportunities to take action in support of these bills.
Farmers Come to Western
New York Town
Blabac and Erin Grimley have moved to the town of Clarence in northwestern
Erie County to run Root Down Farm, a Community Supported Agriculture farm. They are
currently renting a farm in the town and are interested in acquiring additional
farmland through Clarence’s Greenprint program, a local farmland conservation program
funded by a $12.5 million bond the town approved in 2002 to protect farmland
and open space. The Western New York Land Conservancy
has been instrumental in protecting farmland through the Greenprint and in
recruiting new farmers.
Chill Out: It’s Time for Sundae on
ago there were 1,800 farms in Saratoga
County. Today there are
only 641. Fewer people are directly involved in farming and do not have the
opportunity to experience agriculture first-hand to understand how the food we
eat is produced. Saratoga
County’s Sundae on the Farm links the farming community and the public by
bringing thousands of people annually to visit a local farm. This year’s event
will be held on Sunday, June 19 from noon through 4:00 pm at Clear Echo Farm,
LLC, a dairy located in the Town of Northumberland.
County Farmland Protection Study in
the Puget Sound Region
Northwest office is beginning a study this month of farmland protection
programs in the 14 counties of the Puget Sound region in western Washington. We are
looking at agricultural zoning, purchase and transfer of development rights
programs, tax relief, and other tools in each of the counties and will be developing
a scorecard for each county. The study will culminate this fall in awards to
the top-ranked counties.
A Strategic Plan for the Skagit Valley
completing work on a strategic plan for the Skagit
Farmland Legacy program, which purchases development rights on farmland in
the Skagit Valley. The new plan fine-tunes
procedures for soliciting, reviewing, and ranking proposals from area farmers
and identifies potential funding sources for increasing the scale of the
program. The revised plan will be presented to the Skagit County Commissioners
on June 22.
Environmental Markets Workshop
co-hosted a workshop with the Oregon-based Willamette Partnership on environmental
markets in the Pacific Northwest. Leaders of nonprofit groups from across
the region gathered to discuss their market initiatives, the opportunities and
constraints they are facing, and how we can work together to expand and
accelerate market development.
Puget Sound Foodshed Study
is beginning work on the Puget Sound Foodshed Study this month with early
planning work on how to "map" the flow of food between producers and
consumers, a surprisingly difficult task due to the many food imports and
exports in the region. The study is being funded in part by the University of Washington and Whole Foods Market.
Program Cuts Put Agricultural Lands and Food Security at Risk
dramatic cuts to conservation programs, the recently passed House
Appropriations Bill, “is risky and simply short-sighted when it comes to
protecting our nation’s agricultural resources for a healthy future for America,”
explains our president Jon Scholl. “Cutting over half a billion
dollars in this year’s budget and targeting crucial and effective programs by
another 20 percent or more in the 2012 budget is a dangerous step in the wrong
direction, and we hope the Senate will restore some or all of these funds." The
nation’s farm and ranch land is needed to help feed a growing
population—projected to reach more than 10 billion by the end of the
century. Share your comments
and help us build a strong message to ensure that the Senate deals more
fairly with funding that impacts America’s farms and ranches.
Vote for Your Favorite
All you have to do is read
the comments shared by voters in America’s Favorite Farmers Markets™
contest to get a view of the unique blend of food, farms, sustainability and
community that is found in farmers markets across the country. Our annual
contest promotes the connection between fresh, local food and the farms and
farmland that supply it. Vote now for your most cherished farmers markets
to win in this year’s America’s Favorite Farmers Markets™ contest, and share your story of why you care about supporting
local farms at the farmers market. Your comment may appear on the Farmland
Report! Once you have voted, help your
farmers market manager spread
the word this summer with our outreach toolbox.
What's the Future for Farm Subsidies?
old farm bill program is getting new attention. Discussions surrounding both
2012 budget appropriations and long-term deficit reduction are focusing on the
Direct Payments farm subsidy program as a target for cuts. In the House, an
amendment to cut Direct Payments by $20 million a year was passed in the
appropriations committee but later proposed to be stripped out, a decision that
remained pending as the House continued to vote through Thursday. In
addition, the budget negotiations led by Vice President Biden are targeting the program for up to $30 billion in cuts over 10 years. This may or may not fly with the House Agriculture
Committee, where 15 freshmen members are caught between their
deficit cutting commitments, their constituents, and in some cases their own
wallets as a number benefit from these subsidies. As we have found in talking
with farmers across the country, these debates are in many ways welcomed, providing the
opportunity to build a more effective safety net for farmers.
Farm-to-Flight Takes Off
Looking for options from local farms during your next layover? Local food has found a place at the San Francisco International Airport
with the unveiling of the renovated Terminal 2. The first of its kind in the United States,
the local food corridor features a majority of vendors that serve locally sourced
healthy food, providing a unique opportunity for travelers to enjoy regional
food and support local farmers.
|Around the Country
change will undoubtedly have a tremendous impact on farms, farming and the food
needed to feed a growing population, highlights the New York Times.
of Agriculture Tom Vilsack kicked off the summer season at the USDA’s farmers
market, remarking on the movement to connect urban communities with
farmers. Also on display was the USDA’s People’s Garden and DC Central Kitchen’s educational Truck
Association for Sustainable Agriculture has launched a new program to
help aspiring farmers locate and lease land, a program that has been
met with much enthusiasm by the state where the average age of farmers is 57.
Foundation, the charitable foundation of famed director George Lucas, is
helping the Marin
Agricultural Land Trust acquire a conservation easement on the
historic fifth generation Corda Ranch near Novato,
improved budget forecast on his hands, Delaware
Governor Jack Markell has recommended restoring
$10 million to the state’s Agricultural Land Preservation program,
using $3 million of those funds for an initiative that would help jump start
the ventures of young farmers.
Utah Legislature voted to cut state
farmland protection funds, a group of leaders—from government to farmers to
environmental representatives—has formed a task force to find ways to preserve
new program titled Our Local Food and
funded by the Kansas Department of
Agriculture is working to bring together local growers with
from the Liberty Prairie Foundation of Illinois reviews
the incorporation of agriculture in new community design by featuring five
case studies from across the country.
In New Jersey,
new generation of young adults interested in farming is seeing a demand for
their locally grown food, but they face the challenge of finding affordable
land to cultivate.
20 to 26, celebrate the butterflies, bees and other winged creatures that help
pollinate the summer’s fruits and vegetables with Pollinator Week
events across the country.
are finding ways to diversify their businesses through agritourism. California
leads the industry with nearly 700 farms adding an average of $50,000 in income
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association has released
its summer tour schedule, featuring a variety of visits and
demonstrations throughout the state.
from the University of California
at Berkeley and the University of Washington
notes that changing
climate conditions are putting fruit and nut production at risk, resulting
in an uncertain future for farmers.
USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory, now in the process of its annual
update, can provide economic and policy benefits.
Annual New Partners for Smart Growth
Conference, scheduled for February 2 to 4, 2012, in San Diego, California, has opened up submission for
nutrition guidelines to promote healthier eating are symbolized in the recently
unveiled icon, My
Plate, which replaces the previous food pyramid.