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Check out our Farmland
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN CALIFORNIA
Why Is a Bullet Train Threatening
After nearly a decade planning for a high-speed “bullet”
train from Southern California to the San Francisco Bay Area, serious questions
are being raised, including the threat to the incomparable and irreplaceable
farmland in the San Joaquin
Valley. The decision on a
right-of-way and the release of an environmental impact report on the project
shed light on how, if executed as planned, the resulting loss to California agriculture
could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Among the other impacts of
the project, the right-of-way will take thousands of acres of prime farmland out
of production and hundreds of farms will be cut in half by train tracks
protected by high fences that have been likened to the Great
Wall of China.
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN MARYLAND
Not Your Grandfather’s Tractor
up: corn prices, algal blooms and regulatory pressure. “Precision agriculture”
is one way farmers can grow a profitable crop on a thin margin while keeping fertilizer
out of streams and rivers. On a sunny day on Maryland’s
Eastern Shore, farmers, agricultural advisors,
local agencies and non-profit staff gathered to learn about auto-piloting
equipment with pinpoint precision that allows farmers to collect real-time data
on crop harvests, map the most fertile areas of their fields and set up their
own on-farm experiments from the comfort of their tractor cabs. We
took part in the Mid-Atlantic Precision Agriculture Field Day for farmers
from all six Bay states and Pennsylvania
to promote these new farm management tools that help farmers keep their costs
down and the water clean.
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN NEW ENGLAND
Farmland ConneCTions: A New Guide
for Land Leasing
Access to land can be a major
obstacle to young and veteran farmers alike. Leasing farmland from towns,
institutions and land trusts provides an opportunity for beginning and
expanding farmers to embark on new farm ventures or grow their farm businesses.
Whether five acres or 100 acres, leased land can help keep farms thriving while
creating jobs and providing local food. To help landowners and land seekers
think through farm leasing and develop successful lease arrangements, we developed
a new guide along with the University
of Connecticut called Farmland ConneCTions: Leasing Farmland in
Connecticut. Two upcoming webinars on the guide will cover tenure options,
practical and legal considerations in drafting a lease, community farms and
risk management options.
Celebrate the Community Preservation Act in Boston on September 27th
The Community Preservation Act (CPA) has been instrumental in helping Massachusetts communities protect farmland and other open space. On September 27th, we'll join other advocates at the State House in Boston to celebrate the act’s 10th anniversary and encourage lawmakers to act on House Bill 765, which allows communities that have adopted the CPA to continue to receive an annual minimum distribution of state matching funds. We will also recognize 10 individuals who have been significant contributors to the success of the program, including Bob Wagner, our Senior Policy and Program Advisor, who has been deeply involved in CPA efforts in his home town of Hatfield, Massachusetts, and around the Pioneer Valley.
Staff Changes in Our New England Office
At the end
of August, we said goodbye to our New England Field Representative and Working
Lands Alliance Project Director Ben Bowell, who left to travel around the world
with his wife, Amber. Ben was instrumental in countless New England Office
projects, including state-wide policy initiatives, planning for agriculture
work, research projects and coalition building. We are pleased that Leah Mayor
has joined our office and will serve as WLA Project Director and New England
Project Manager. Leah has an extensive background in education and community
leadership as well as experience with sustainability initiatives focused on local
food and agricultural systems.
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN NEW YORK
Help for Farmers Affected by Tropical
The recent tropical
storms Irene and Lee devastated crops, swept away barns and drowned livestock
in New York. At the federal level, a bipartisan group of senators and
congressmen introduced the Post-Irene
Emergency Farm Aid Act to authorize $10 million in emergency funds for
farmers. Last week, Governor Cuomo
announced a $15 million Agricultural and
Community Recovery Fund to help rural communities that were affected. Darrel
Aubertine, Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets, has taken
the first step by releasing $5
million from the Agricultural and
Community Recover Fund to begin the rehabilitation of farmland damaged
by the flooding. “The land is the farmer’s greatest resource,” said Aubertine.
“This funding will help farmers who have had their land devastated by Hurricane
Tell Regional Economic Development
Councils Agriculture Is Important to New York’s Economy and Food
New York’s newly
formed Regional Councils for Economic Development held their first meetings
last month. These councils are coordinating
economic development efforts across New York and are competing for up to
one billion dollars in state economic aid. Each
council will create a regional economic development plan to be submitted in
November. Governor Cuomo has encouraged the public to participate in public
forums and other work of the regional councils. We need to get out there and
make sure the regional councils understand that investing
in the business of agriculture is critically important to both our economy and
our food security!
Saratoga Farmers Market, You’re
Number One in New York!
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market in
Saratoga Springs, New York, placed first in the state and second in the
nation in the medium market category in our America’s
Favorite Farmers’ MarketTM contest. The market was founded in
1978 and has grown from a small group of local farmers to more than 50 local
vendors set up two days a week during the summer under permanent pavilions. In the
winter, the market continues to offer a wide variety of local fresh products at
the Division Street School.
The market prides itself on being a local, producer-only market.
What Can a Natural Disaster Teach Us
About Farmland Protection?
East Coast, the final toll of farm and food dollars lost from Hurricane Irene
and Tropical Storm Lee continues to add up. As Bob
Wagner, our Senior Policy and Program Advisor, explains, “The
unprecedented flooding is a reminder of the value of farmland beyond the food
and fiber it provides by serving as a natural ‘sponge’ to absorb and filter
water.” The farms and forests once located upstream from severe flooding
may have already been replaced by development; however, states throughout the
region are recognizing the value of farmland and taking measures to ensure it
Gearing Up for the 2012 Farm Bill
process underway in Washington
is likely to change the course of federal farm policy. Amid this climate, the
current farm bill is set to expire, offering both challenges and opportunities.
A smart farm bill will provide the greatest benefit to communities by keeping
farmers and ranchers on the land and in business while helping them be good
stewards of our working lands. Join us in preparing for the 2012 Farm Bill
negotiations by testing your knowledge of federal farm and food policy.
Leading Thoughts on Saving Working Lands
Along with Farm Foundation NFP and
the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, we've released a summary of
major themes from agricultural thought-leaders, which emerged from the National
Agricultural Landscapes Forum earlier this year. Findings include expanding
market-based solutions, planning for agriculture and addressing food security.
Announcing America’s Favorite
2011 America's Favorite Farmers Markets™ contest, more than 94,000 people
across the country cast their votes for the markets they love! Customers
submitted comments about why they appreciate their market and what
it means for their community, local farms and farmland. In its third year, the contest
promotes the economic and social value of farmers markets in communities along
with the need to recognize that we must have local farm and ranch land
to grow fresh, healthy and local food. And
the winners are….
Seeking Farm-Friendly Restaurants
for 2nd Annual Dine Out for Farms™
is now underway for our second annual Dine Out for Farms™ week
in October. This nationwide event is a great opportunity for restaurants to celebrate
delicious food and the people who grow it while raising funds to protect
farmland. Joining leading restaurants around the country is Mike Isabella, who
appeared on season six of Top Chef and
was the runner-up on Top Chef All-Stars.
"Working with local farmers
supports their business and the economy, hopefully making it affordable for
more Americans to eat locally sourced, fresh and healthy food," said
Isabella, chef and owner of Graffiato. Help
us recruit your favorite farm-friendly restaurant and enter the running to
receive a free No Farms No Food®
AROUND THE COUNTRY
In New Jersey,
a new program is finding
preserve farmland, support the economic health of farms and protect the
environment by paying farmers to grow sunflowers.
The Gathering Waters Conservancy of Wisconsin
is holding their
annual Land Conservation Leadership Award Celebration on Thursday, September 29.
Jersey’s Governor Christie brought together
bipartisan support to pass legislation providing $90.6 million in grants to counties, towns and nonprofit
organizations to preserve farmland and add money to state-initiated land
|An advertising campaign in Boston, Massachusetts, allows commuters
to access an interactive map of state farm and agritourism destinations through
a Quick Response (QR) code.
On September 27, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture is
hosting a forum to address both the current status and future direction of
Rappahannock County, Virginia, is hosting its third annual county-wide
farm tour on September 24 and 25.
Wholesale Clubs are featuring fresh, local produce in their Northeast locations through a “Farm
to Club” program.
The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working group is hosting a working
conference, It Takes a Region,
from November 11 to 12.
annual Ohio farmland preservation summit, Farmland Preservation: We Mean Business, will be held on
Thursday, November 17. Among the keynote speakers is our president, Jon Scholl,
who will address considerations for the 2012 Farm Bill.
has been declared “Farm
to School Month” in Minnesota by
Illinois may soon be home to a local
food learning center.
The National Good Food Network is offering
a variety of upcoming webinars on topics such as “Technology for Good Food”
and “Two Revolutionary Tools for Beginning Farmers.”
is open for the 2011
Slow Money National Gathering, coming to California
in October. The program features a number of sessions focusing on regional
food systems and local food sheds.
action today to protect funding for the federal Partnership for Sustainable
Communities, which provides support for organizations across the country
working on critical smart growth initiatives.