|Welcome to the April 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.
USDA Report Offers Good News and a
Look to the Future in the Bay
The Conservation Effects Assessment Project
Cropland Report, released
by the USDA, showed that voluntary incentive-based efforts by farmers in
the Chesapeake Bay watershed have helped in
reducing runoff. The report, which demonstrates the active participation of
farmers in helping to improve Bay water quality, is a valuable tool for guiding
conservation programs moving forward. In 2010 alone, farmers in Pennsylvania,
Maryland and Virginia who participated in our BMP Challenge reduced fertilizer runoff by 51,225 pounds—nearly 26
pounds per acre or more than 1,970 pounds per farmer! The
progress is significant, but there is more work left to be done in cleaning up
the Bay, a process that will continue to involve work with farmers in the
region to improve conservation practices.
Good News for Farmland Protection Funding
but Uncertainty Remains
for your help in asking the Maryland General Assembly to reject proposals that
would impact land conservation programs. The House budget kept all proposed
funding for Program
Open Space—and we
hope you express your appreciation to the Delegate in your district! Just
this week, the Senate adopted the House’s recommendation to preserve funding
for Program Open Space on the local level. However, other programs—including state
level funding for Program Open Space, Rural Legacy and Maryland Agricultural
Land Preservation Foundation—were cut from the Senate’s budget and will debated
with the House in conference. Once the Capital Budget conferees are known, we
hope you will join us again to be a voice in protecting Maryland's central land conservation
New Loan Program for Beginning Farmers
East, Yankee Farm Credit and CoBank are offering a new program to address a
major hurdle for new farm businesses—initial access to capital. Farm
Start is a beginning farmer loan program that will provide investments in working
capital of up to $50,000 to farmers, forestry producers, fishermen and farm
related service businesses and cooperatives in their first three years of
business. A business plan is required, and participants will have up to
five years to repay the loan.
University of Vermont
and Intervale Center Offer New Farmer Apprentice
The University of Vermont,
in partnership with the Intervale
Center, has created a
five-month intensive program for aspiring farmers and food systems advocates
that provides a hands-on, entrepreneurial approach to sustainable
farming. The full-time program offers participants the unique opportunity
to manage their own growing site, take classes from professors and farmers, and
rotate as workers and learners between successful, diverse farms at the
award-winning Intervale Center in Burlington,
Vermont. The program will provide
an intense, supportive experience where participants leave with a Certificate
in Sustainable Farming, a deeper understanding of agricultural management and
small-scale farming, and the entrepreneurial skills to start their own
No Farms No Food® Rally & Lobby Day 2011 a Huge Success
land trust leaders, farmers, food advocates and other New Yorkers gathered at
the State Capitol on March 30 to engage more than 120 legislators and staff in
productive dialogue about the importance of farms and local food to the state’s
economy and food security. Participants enjoyed a local foods lunch and heard
remarks from Agriculture Committee Chair Senator Patty Ritchie and
Assemblyman Bill Magee, as well as new Commissioner of Agriculture Darrel
Aubertine, among others.
State Budget Sustains Critical Funds
for Farms and Food
In the wee
hours of March 31, the
New York State Legislature passed a 2011-2012 budget sustaining critical
funding for farms, local foods and saving farmland. The budget increases
funding for farmland protection for the first time in three years. This is a
significant victory in light of the fact that the state Farmland Protection
Program’s funding has been cut by 83 percent since 2008. The budget also
restores funding to numerous agricultural programs threatened with elimination
during budget negotiations, including agricultural marketing programs and
economic development programs such as the New York Farm Viability Institute and
Growing the Economy Through Food
Slicing and Dicing our
Way to New Jobs and Economic Opportunities, a webinar, scheduled for 1 pm on April 20, is the third in a series of webinars aimed at helping communities
support agriculture and protect farmland. This webinar will examine
the development of a local food processing facility, Farm to Table Co-Packers, located in
the Hudson Valley, with a presentation by Farm 2
Table partner Jim Hyland. Chris Harmon, Executive Director of the Center for Agricultural Development
and Entrepreneurship (CADE), located in Otsego County,
will discuss how communities can help farmers expand their businesses and
create jobs and opportunities for residents.
A Fond Farewell to Don Stuart
30 farmers, farm organization leaders, and partners attended the send-off for Don Stuart on
March 25. Don has officially retired as our director for the Pacific Northwest
region, although he continues to help as a consultant on our Skagit County
farmland protection and ecosystem
Update on Farmland Protection in Skagit County
At a March
17 meeting with the county's farmland protection leaders, we presented two
different strategies for their property-tax-funded purchase of development
rights program. The first would concentrate purchases on the edge of the
existing towns and the Interstate 5 corridor in order to halt sprawl into farm
areas. The second focused funds on large blocks of contiguous farmland away
from developed areas. The decision was made to try to craft a hybrid of the
Skagit County program is the most active in the state and has protected
more than 7,000 acres of farmland to date.
Accepted for 2011 Governor’s Smart Communities Awards
Gregoire has invited nominations for outstanding work by local governments and
their partners on community planning and development. The values and priorities of each
community are apparent from their individual plans for how they want to look
and function 20 or 50 years from now. For one community it may be an
emphasis on supporting agriculture, another on prioritizing their downtown
redevelopment—but it all adds up to shared vision, tough decisions and
partnerships. Though we often hear about the controversies and debates,
neighbors, farmers, business people and public officials are not only planning,
but putting their plans into reality to make communities vibrant and livable.
awards have been an annual event since 2006. Nominations are
being sought in the following categories: Smart Vision Award
for Comprehensive Planning, Smart Choices Award for
Implementation of a Comprehensive Plan, and Smart Partnerships Award
for Development Project to Implement a Comprehensive Plan.
Nominations are being accepted through May 4, 2011.
Attend Hearings Starting April 8 to Determine Fate of Farmland
Thank you for voicing opposition to Gov.
Scott Walker's budget proposal to eliminate the state's Purchase of
Agricultural Conservation Easement program. Together we have built critical momentum around this issue. Now we have an important opportunity to be heard by the
Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance, which will act on the governor’s
budget proposal. The committee has announced a series of hearings that begin
this week. Farmland protection supporters can speak directly to members of this
powerful committee at these hearings. Help protect farmland in Wisconsin by attending a hearing and telling your own personal stories about why farmland
protection is important to you!
Tipoff for the 2012 Farm Bill
healthy future for our land and food requires thoughtful and strategic
planning. The decisions that Congress makes for the 2012 Farm Bill are starting
now; they will impact not only taxpayers but anyone who relies on food, fuel
and fiber from America's
farm and ranch land. Our
president Jon Scholl reflects on some of the challenges and opportunities that
should be addressed for a smarter farm bill.
Growing Support to Make an Important
Conservation Tool Permanent
one year renewal of the Conservation Easement Incentive Act last December was
great news for protecting our working lands, making it economically feasible for thousands of farmers and ranchers to
conserve their land and keep it in farming. Forty Representatives have enlisted
as original co-sponsors and we
have added our voice to support a permanent extension for this incentive
that will allow more landowners to chose conservation—but legislative strength
for the bill will require a much broader foundation! If your Representative has not already signed on, you can help us grow the list
of co-sponsors in the House.
Region’s Viewpoint on Food and Farming
policy makers and planners are now taking a holistic look at healthy, local food—from
its importance in creating jobs to combating obesity to keeping farmland
in farming and protecting the environment. In February, the Delaware Valley
Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) released a ground-breaking food system
plan that identifies opportunities to develop the regional economy and
strengthen farming while improving public health, protecting soil and
water, and encouraging diversity, innovation and collaboration. Eating Here:
The Greater Philadelphia Food System Plan identifies
shared values and goals, develops a set of indicators and provides 52
recommendations for a secure and sustainable regional food system.
Opportunity for Farm-to-School Programs?
Vilsack announced the expansion of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, a
2008 Farm Bill authorized initiative to provide more fresh, healthy food to
children in schools. Increasingly, schools
are turning to local farms as the source for improving lunches. Such
support could help bolster the relationship between schools and local farms, a
connection that would have positive implications for new programs across the
as this pilot farm-to-school program in Loudoun County, Virginia.
|Around the Country
of California, Davis researchers are studying the projected effects of losing
the state’s premiere farmland preservation tool. The potential result was found
to be detrimental for California’s ranchland and wildlife habitat.
In Ann Arbor, Michigan, county
leaders and a local greenbelt advisory commission have come together to include
purchase of agricultural conservation easements in the natural areas
The Land Stewardship Project in
southern Minnesota is taking a
unique approach to fostering discussion about preserving farmland for the next
generation by creating a dramatic play about farmland ownership and
Miami Valley Planning Commission in Ohio is
asking residents to vote on seven future development scenarios for the
region, with farmland protection a principle tenet in two of the
future land use scenarios.
The Nebraska Corn Growers Association and the Aurora Cooperative have partnered with the American Red Cross to hold a grain
donation drive for disaster relief efforts in Japan. Farmers can donate their
grain at 19 different locations throughout Nebraska,
now through July 30.
effort to slim down the Utah state
have cut the LeRay McAllister Fund for agricultural and open land
conservation, thereby removing the only state program that qualifies for
federal conservation dollars.
Paul Quinn College, located in the Highland Hills Community
outside of Dallas, Texas,
has gone against the grain to convert
its football field to an organic farm.
Conservation Trust for North Carolina
and Land for Tomorrow coalition have found a significant financial
payoff from investing in conservation programs for that state.
The North Carolina Department of
Agriculture and Consumer Services is making more than $1
million in Consumer Block Grants available to fund projects by various
entities that will help local farmers grow more profitable crops.
near Charleston, South Carolina,
have begun to notice a
significant surge in both the amount of growers and customers who are
participating in the Community Supported Agriculture model.
seminars run by the Agricultural Land Preservation Program in Hartford, Connecticut, introduce
landowners to conservation easements.
New York Senator Charles E. Schumer (D) has
announced his proposal of a contribution to the 2012 Farm Bill. Schumer’s “Maple Tap Act” will provide
grant funding to states that create programs to encourage landowners to offer up
their trees for maple tapping.
The USDA will provide nearly $6
million in funding to five partners in Georgia, Idaho, Iowa and Missouri
to help achieve water quality goals in wetlands.
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels had a
friendly wager hanging on the VCU-Butler Final Four basketball game. The currency?—local
food products from their respective states.