December E-News: Sharing Inspiration from 2012

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Welcome to the December 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? Check out our Farmland Report blog. 

wheat-field-farm-family2.jpgAll farmers and ranchers know preparing for the year ahead starts with looking back at the bright spots and challenges from the seasons before. At AFT, we’re proud that in 2012 we rallied farmers and citizens alike to advocate on behalf of protecting farm and ranch land. Our innovative projects helped family farmers pioneer sound farming practices, which help to preserve our land and water resources. We also laid the groundwork to keep farmers on the land by providing tools and resources that allow them to thrive. 

In this month’s E-news, we’re sharing accomplishments and inspiration from 2012 in the words of our expert staff across the country. We hope you enjoy their insider perspectives and join us in the vital work that lies ahead in the New Year.


A Vision and a Plan for California Agriculture

Vineyard in California"AFT helped launch a 'greenprint,' which is intended to be a set of strategies for the conservation and sustainable management of land and water resources, in the San Joaquin Valley. This is California’s most important agricultural region, the southern half of the Central Valley. It’s like a fruit forest 250 miles long by 50 miles wide. In the spring when all the fruit, the almonds and the peaches and the plums everything are in bloom, it’s just astonishing. But it’s under siege from urban growth with a population of four million expected to reach nine million by mid-century."

Read more from California Director Ed Thompson, Jr. 

Preserving Clean Water and Viable Farms in the Mid-Atlantic

Maryland dairy farm in winter"While all the reasons we have identified through the years for why farmland is important are all still true, we also have this heightened concern about water quality. We need to understand what role farmland and farmers play in this realm and we articulate that to people. They need to understand how much agriculture is part of the solution for this issue, too. And so this last year I’ve been working on making the case that farmland is essential for water quality so we can make it part of the policy solution."

 Read more from Mid-Atlantic Director Jim Baird

Protecting Farmland by the Acre—and the Inch—in the Midwest

Tractor in field in midwest"As farm couples age, typically women live longer than men. After they become widows, women are frequently in charge of a very valuable asset—meaning the farmland—and they may or may not have been engaged in dealing with government programs or some of the institutions that impact the farmland itself. I thought there’s an opportunity here, a niche for American Farmland Trust to play in helping educate and empower women who own or control the land. Through conversations with my AFT colleague, Anne Sorensen, I found that we both had that same thinking in common. So we are making the case those women landowners have a lot of influence on who rents the land and whether or not conservation will be applied to the land."

Read more from Midwest Director Mike Baise

Planning for Food and Agriculture in New England

Massachusetts farmland and Connecticut River"It’s been an exciting year, with so much interest and energy around the region on building New England’s food system infrastructure and fostering economic development in agriculture. And with each of the New England states focused on planning for agriculture and the food system, it’s a great opportunity to think holistically about the region’s farmland base and what it will take not only to stem the loss of productive farmland, but to put additional land back into production to grow the region’s food production capacity."

Read more from New England Director Cris Coffin

Spreading the No Farms No Food® Message in New York

New York farmer and sons in field"I think it was a pivot year for AFT and our work in New York…I think that in 2012 we saw that perhaps we are starting to rebuild some of the things that have been hurt so deeply. For example, our state farmland protection program got a boost in funding in 2012, up to $12 million. That program permanently protected 20 farms in 2011-2012. Those are 20 farm families and it is 6,000 acres of farmland that is now going to be permanently protected in this state."

Read more from New York Director David Haight

Advocating for Farmland Forever in the Pacific Northwest

Fields in Washington Palouse region"We have a really significant problem with farmland loss here in the Puget Sound region. We’ve lost about 60 percent of our farmland here since 1950, and of course this is near and dear to our mission as an organization. One of the things I’ve been interested in doing since I got here is to try to develop a strong campaign for farmland preservation in the Puget Sound region, particularly where the rates of loss have been high….We hope that this Farmland Forever campaign is going to result in the protection of more than 100,000 acres of additional farmland here in the region."

Read more from Pacific Northwest Director Dennis Canty 

©2012 American Farmland Trust. All Rights Reserved.
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Washington, DC 20036
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