Political Forecast for Farms and Food, Share in a Legacy of Love and Farmland Protection, and Take the Clean Water Challenge

American Farmland Trust
American Farmland Trust

E-News January 20, 2011
Welcome to the January 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.
New York

No Farms No Food® Rally & Lobby Day, March 30th
Strong Farm & Food Economy
& Healthy Environment & Local Food

No Farms No FoodWe will hold our second annual No Farms No Food® Rally & Lobby Day on Wednesday, March 30, at the State Capitol in Albany, New York. Join farmers, food advocates, local officials, environmentalists and other New Yorkers to meet with legislators at the State Capitol about the critical importance of farms and food to New York State’s economy and food security.

Bus transportation roundtrip from New York City to Albany will be available.

Registration will be available soon on our website at www.farmland.org/newyork.

Check Out Last Year's Rally.

Dairy Farmer Nominated  for Commissioner of Ag

Darrel Aubertine, JUSTIN SORENSEN  WATERTOWN DAILY TIMESDarrel Aubertine, dairy farmer and former North Country state senator was nominated for Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets by Governor Andrew Cuomo. As state senator of the 48th Senate District, including Oswego, Jefferson and part of St. Lawrence counties, Aubertine served as an outspoken advocate for funding environmental programs aimed at helping farmers protect land and water resources. Last year Aubertine sponsored legislation supported by American Farmland Trust that cut red tape for farmers seeking funds to protect their land, making private land trusts eligible to apply to the state’s Farmland Protection Program. The bill became law in May 2010.

Planning for Agriculture Guide & Webinars

New York Planning for Agriculture GuideOur brand-new guide to Planning for Agriculture in New York: A Toolkit for Towns and Counties will be soon available. The guide highlights 80 towns and counties that have taken action to keep farms viable and protect farmland.

Register today for one of the webinars:

 New England

AFT Pleased with New Chief Agricultural Officers in Vermont and Connecticut

Vermont Farmland - USDA photoCris Coffin, our New England Director, is thrilled with the new Chief Agricultural Officers appointed in Vermont and Connecticut. Chuck Ross, the new Secretary of Agriculture in Vermont, has been instrumental in Sen. Patrick Leahy’s efforts on behalf of the state’s dairy industry, farmland protection and agricultural business and market development. Connecticut’s new Commissioner, Steve Reviczky, has been a member of the Working Lands Alliance Steering Committee and former staff for the state Farmland Preservation Program. “Ross and Reviczky will be two strong and effective advocates for agriculture and land conservation,” said Coffin.

Massachusetts Rolls Out State Conservation Tax Credit

Barn in Ashfield, MassachusettsOn January 1, 2011, Massachusetts became the first state in New England with a personal income tax credit for the full or partial donation of a conservation restriction or agricultural preservation restriction. The tax credit is capped at $50,000 and will be valuable to farmers and farmland owners who make a donation of the value of their restriction when participating in the state Agricultural Preservation Restriction Program. American Farmland Trust and our conservation partners helped improve the legislation to make the tax credit refundable.

Connecticut Governor Malloy Visits Working Lands Alliance Meeting

Working Lands Alliance LogoThe Working Lands Alliance welcomed new Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy and newly-appointed Commissioner of Agriculture, and former Steering Committee member, Steve Reviczky to its January 11th meeting. Chair Terry Jones presented the Alliance’s top three legislative priorities [PDF]: state bonding for farmland preservation; revisions to the Community Investment Act to restore funding to the Farmland Preservation Program and continue the state’s support of dairy farms; and the permanent preservation of six state-owned farmland properties. The governor expressed his commitment to the maintenance and growth of farming as an industry in Connecticut and agreed with the need for bond funding for farmland preservation. 

 Chesapeake Bay

Milestone Reached in the Chesapeake Bay

The first decade of the 21st century has ended and with it, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia passed a major milestone for the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement. The regional agreement acknowledged the crucial role land conservation plays in the Bay’s water quality and set a goal to protect 20 percent of the farm, forest and ecological land area in the watershed. In just 10 years, the states have preserved 7.26 million acres


Gov. McDonnell Seeks Additional Support for State Farmland Protection

In the current lawmaking session, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has proposed legislation to preserve working farm and forest lands that will accomplish his goal to protect 400,000 acres of open space during his four-year term. Contact your state officials and thank them for representing the interests of Virginia’s working lands.


San Francisco Bay Area Assesses Challenges, Opportunities

The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the nation’s leaders in local food. Sustaining Our Bounty: An Assessment of the State of Farming and Ranching in the San Francisco Bay Area [PDF], summarizes the challenges and opportunities of the region’s $1.9 billion a year agriculture industry, calling for new strategies to support its future prosperity. A key may be to enable farmers and ranchers to capitalize on the growing demand for locally-produced food from the region’s seven million consumers. In March, along with our partners, Greenbelt Alliance and Sustainable Agriculture Education, we will convene a regional conference to design strategies to sustain Bay Area agriculture.  

Ag Vision Co-chair Named as New Secretary of Food & Agriculture

CA Governor Elect Brown at Ag Vision EventCalifornia Governor Jerry Brown has appointed a friend of American Farmland Trust, Karen Ross, as the new state Secretary of Food & Agriculture. Before serving two years as chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Ms. Ross was executive director of the California Association of Winegrape Growers and member of the state Board of Food & Agriculture, in which she co-chaired California Agricultural Vision with former American Farmland Trust president Ralph Grossi. Ag Vision is a design to lead California to a strategic agricultural plan, a process AFT was asked to orchestrate. In mid-December, we released a series of recommendations endorsed by the State Board.

 Main Stories

A Gift of Farmland Becomes a Legacy of Love

A Legacy of LoveIn 1995, Owen and Ellen Love donated their 660-acre farm outside Climax, Michigan to American Farmland Trust. The Loves believed deeply in protecting their valuable farmland for future generations. Through the recent sale of the farm subject to a conservation easement, their vision will now extend to help others protect even more working lands in Michigan through the Owen and Ellen Love Family Farmland Protection fund managed by American Farmland Trust. The Love family’s remarkable contribution is one that will certainly have a lasting impact on the future of agriculture in the state. 

Capitol with American FlagProtecting Farmland is Top Priority According to the Agenda 2011 Leadership Poll

More than 2,500 of our supporters weighed in on our Agenda 2011 Leadership Poll to help highlight the farmland protection, environmental and healthy food policies that require the most urgent attention in their states. The lead concern noted by 84 percent of the poll participants is protecting the land for future generations. The responses have helped us develop a sharper view of priorities for farms, food, and the environment on both the local and national scale.

A New Political Landscape for Farms, Food and Farmland?

The new political landscape that materialized during the 2010 mid-term election is becoming clearer as the Republican leadership has organized the committee structures. Keith Good, author of FarmPolicy.com, provides a look at the leaders who will chart the nation’s course for federal farm policy for the next two years

Protecting the Environment Outside of the Courtroom

The recent American Farm Bureau Federation vs. Enviromental Protection Agency lawsuit brings the environmental challenges of the Chesapeake Bay into a contested legal space. In an opinion piece from, our president, and former Illinois Farm Bureau employee and Environmental Protection Agency advisor, Jon Scholl, shares his perspective on the effectiveness of a collaborative environment outside of the courtroom. Through programs like the BMP Challenge, we have brought together agriculture and environmentalists in the Chesapeake Bay region to achieve their common goal of protecting the local watershed.

Cleaning up our waterways will take more than just the efforts of farmers. Everyone has a role to play. Pledge to do your part by taking our Clean Water Challenge: Match A Farmer's Commitment.

 Around the Country

On January 1, Dennis Canty stepped in as our Pacific Northwest Director. Canty, who co-authored the Guide to Environmental Markets for Farmers & Ranchers, brings extensive experience working with local and state agencies and governments, non-profit organizations, and Indian tribes throughout the region on conservation and watershed planning.

Maryland offers great training opportunities for new farmers [PDF] with a focus on small-scale, fruit and vegetable production.

Maine Farmland Trust launched a campaign to preserve 100,000 acres of farmland by 2014, as the state expects about one-third of their farmland to transition ownership over the next 10 years.

Virginia allocates $100,000 in spending for farmland protection.

American Farmland Trust’s board of director member Daniel Shaw recounts American Farmland Trust’s work in Colorado in Edible Aspen.

Columbia County, New York is taking advantage of the state Farmland Protection Program, utilizing its resources to assess the status and potential of farming within their community to support and promote local agriculture.

Minnesota’s Farmland and Natural Areas Program has protected nearly 9,000 acres across Dakota County so far, but with original bond funds dwindling, the county is debating the best strategy moving forward.
Lancaster Farmland Trust received a $75,000 grant from Pennsylvania's Growing Greener program to steward Lancaster County's treasured farmland by helping owners of preserved farms implement conservation practices on their farms.
In mid-December we released a series of recommendations endorsed by the California State Board as part of the Ag Vision process, which is designed to lead to a strategic plan for California agriculture.
New England states are highlighted as examples of where spending to protect farms continues in spite of economic hard times.
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 32nd annual conference, Inspiring Farms, Sustaining Communities, is coming up on February 19-20, 2011 in Granville, Ohio.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) gave her first major address as chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and highlighted the key role Michigan agriculture plays in the state’s economy. “As Michigan’s second-largest industry, agriculture generates more than $71.3 billion in revenue each year and accounts for one out of every four jobs in the state.”

The American Planning Association selected Wallace Roberts Todd to receive the first National Planning Excellence Award for a Planning Firm. We worked with the firm to write the growth management plan update in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County and Union counties.

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