Feeding a Healthy Nation, Farms Face the Federal Deficit, and a Great Barn Giveaway!

American Farmland Trust
American Farmland Trust

E-News February 10, 2011
Welcome to the February 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.

Maryland Farmer Looks Toward the Future

Kilby Farm Ice CreamThe Kilby family has farmed in Cecil County, Maryland, for more than 100 years. Having recently opened their own bottling plant and ice cream business, the dairy must now address additional challenges in running the 590 cow farm. In 2009, the Kilbys participated in our BMP Challenge to address production and environmental risks, and they have continued to seek opportunities to protect the future of their farm. Make your own commitment to protect the future of our farms and our natural resources by taking our Clean Water Challenge!

New England

Vermont Farm to Plate Initiative Addresses Farmland Concerns

Vermont FarmlandIn Vermont’s Farm to Plate initiative—a ten-year strategic plan to strengthen the state’s food system—the newly released executive summary identifies affordable access to farmland as a serious barrier for new farmers or those farmers seeking to grow and expand. Among the plan’s goals: “Agriculture will be advanced as the highest and best use of prime agricultural land and soils,” and “Productive, fertile agricultural soil and land will be available and affordable for farming into the future.” Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin recently unveiled a statewide jobs bill that would address a number of goals included in the plan.

New York

Rally Time!
No Farms No Food®
Rally & Lobby Day, March 30th, State Capitol, Albany

Where do folks who feed the hungry in the soup kitchens of Brooklyn, town officials from upstate, dairy farmers from western New York, farmers market managers and land trust staff protecting the New York City watershed all get together? At the No Farms No Food® Rally. American Farmland Trust is bringing farmers, local food advocates, land trusts, hunger relief workers, local officials, environmentalists and concerned citizens from Buffalo to Long Island to the State Capitol in Albany to tell their legislators that local farms and food are essential to food security and to a healthy economy for all New Yorkers. Register to join us

Good News: Governor Cuomo’s Budget Stops Erosion of Funds for Agriculture and Environment

[object Object]Governor Cuomo’s 2011-12 Executive Budget Proposal, released last week, includes good news for efforts to protect farmland in New York. Over the past three years, New York’s Environmental Protection Fund has been nearly cut in half and state funding for the Farmland Protection Program had been cut by 83 percent. In his first budget proposal, Governor Cuomo proposed to hold funding for the Environmental Protection Fund steady at $134 million while allocating $12 million for the Farmland Protection Program.

Webinar Series on Supporting Local Agriculture Kicks Off February 16th

New York Planning for Agriculture Guide

New York state has lost almost half a million acres of agricultural land to development over the last 25 years. That’s 9,000 acres a year—one farm every three and a half days. Fortunately, New Yorkers are rediscovering something that once was common sense: communities need local farms.

Our webinar series, based on our newly released guide Planning for Agriculture in New York: A Toolkit for Towns and Counties, will help community leaders, farmers and planners take action to strengthen economic opportunities for farmers while protecting farmland from being lost to development. Register now for the first webinar on February 16, Making the Most of Planning for Agriculture.

Main Stories

Fiscally Sound Conservation for a Brighter Future

Farm and CornfieldA healthy economic future for our nation requires a balance between public investment and public benefit. American Farmland Trust’s president Jon Scholl reflects on the current fiscal challenges we face as a nation, which are calling into question public investment in federal programs, including those that strengthen conservation efforts on farms and ranches. When it comes to agriculture and an environmentally healthy future, we believe that environmental improvements can be achieved in a fiscally responsible way. 

A Healthy Nation Needs Healthy Farms

Girl holding strawberriesThe intensifying national focus on food and nutrition has set the stage for a collaborative effort between the agriculture and public health communities in the debate over the 2012 Farm Bill. The recent release of new USDA dietary guidelines underscores the need to develop this relationship. To meet the growing demand for healthy food, our nation needs to protect and conserve our farmland. As our managing director of federal policy, Dennis Nuxoll, explains, a partnership with the public health community as we work toward our policy objectives will help ensure a healthier future for us all.

How Will the Federal Budget Cutting Season Impact Farms, Food and Farmland?

Capitol with American FlagAs legislators and President Obama face certain fiscal realities, federal budget decisions will be made that will affect agriculture programs this year and through 2012. Cuts made to meet deficit reduction goals could possibly dip into farm bill programs, threatening initiatives that provide the very basis for conservation and land protection, help advance rural prosperity, and create greater access to local and healthy food for consumers. Take our poll and tell us what you feel should be done with the money available!

 Around the Country

Our New York State Director, David Haight, spoke with Heritage Radio's Farm Report co-host Heather Hyman live in their Brooklyn studio about the upcoming No Farms No Food® Rally and why New York needs to stop losing farmland to development.

American Farmland Trust board member Craig McNamara has been nominated by the California Governor to serve as the next president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture.

Iowa’s Local Food & Farm Plan, developed by the Leopold Center of Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, proposes to boost local food production and the agricultural economy in the state.

One of the oldest family farms in the country now focuses on what its founders did: growing food that goes straight to consumers in Massachusetts.

Chris Manfredi of the Hawaii Farm Bureau discusses a renewed agenda of conservation and sustainability for farmers and ranchers in the island state.

The 2011 Georgia Ag Forecast predicts that increased interest in local farms and food will continue to boost agriculture in the state. The report is part of a series of similar research from the University of Georgia that culminates with a five-city tour this month.

In Washington, proposed state legislation seeks to encourage smart growth while protecting farmland—all without requiring new taxes, new government expenditures or new regulations.

Maryland farmers are planting cover crops across nearly 400,000 acres of farm fields this winter, in an effort to soak up nutrients that harm the Chesapeake Bay and keep soil from washing into the water.

A farm-to-school pilot project, administered by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, will give students the opportunity to observe life on a working farm while learning about healthy eating and discovering where their food comes from.

Soil Born, an urban agriculture and education project in Sacramento, California, was recently awarded a grant from the USDA to help their work on the city’s “nutrition hub,”  which is bridging the gap between farmers and urban consumers.

Our 2008 Steward of the Land winner, Nash Huber of Washington state, recently received the Steward of Sustainable Agriculture award from the Ecological Farming Association.

The newest edition of the Wisconsin Local Food Marketing Guide is now available. The toolkit is a how-to in getting started in or improving on marketing locally grown food.

In a guest blog post, Agricultural Economist Carl Zulauf, architect of the ACRE program, looks at ways to improve this innovative economic safety net for farmers in the 2012 Farm Bill.

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