Sharing a Passion for Farms and Helping the Next Generation of Farmers

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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? Check out our Farmland Report blog.


Farmland Protection a State Planning Priority

California-farmer-with-cherri.jpgIn 2002, the California state legislature passed a law establishing priority goals for land use planning: promote urban infill and efficient development while protecting environmental and agricultural resources. Now the administration of Governor Jerry Brown has signaled its intention to make those goals a reality. In a recently released strategic plan, the California Strategic Growth Council, a cabinet-level body charged with advancing state laws related to land use, has highlighted AB 857 as one of its priorities for action. American Farmland Trust applauds the council for focusing on the implementation of this law and—in particular—its emphasis on preserving California’s most productive farmland from urban sprawl.


 Funding Opportunities for Conservation Easements

Maryland-Farm-in-Spring-Dro.jpgLooking to protect your farmland or safeguard, restore and enhance wetlands on your farm property? USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Maryland has set February 10 as the deadline for applications in the first round of funding for the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program and Wetland Reserve Program. All landowners are encouraged to get their applications in soon to ensure funding availability.


CT Governor Malloy's Council for Agricultural Development Holds First Meeting

Connecticut state capitolThe recently reestablished Governor’s Council for Agricultural Development met for the first time on January 5 in Hartford, reminding us all that it is an exciting time for Connecticut farms. The committee, reestablished in part after advocacy efforts by the Working Lands Alliance, a project of American Farmland Trust, is charged with finding ways to meet local demand for Connecticut-grown agricultural products. “This is a tremendous opportunity to grow agriculture in our state,” remarked Agriculture Commissioner Steven Reviczky addressing Governor Malloy, Senator John Kissel, committee members, and members of the Connecticut Food Farms and Jobs Working Group. We’re proud to have members of our Working Lands Alliance steering committee serve on the governor’s council and contribute to
recommendations from the working group

What's at Stake for the Northeast in the Next Farm Bill?

Farmer holding vegetablesU.S. Reps. Jim McGovern and Chellie Pingree spoke about prospects for farm bill programs important to the Northeast in a two-webinar series we hosted with Wholesome Wave, Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group and New England Farmers Union. One webinar looked at conservation programs, including potential changes and funding cuts to the federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program and the future of the regional equity provision. The other covered prospects for helping to rebuild local and regional food systems. Speakers also included senior staff to Senator Patrick Leahy along with New Hampshire Agriculture Commissioner of Agriculture Lorraine Merrill and Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture Scott Soares. Recordings of the webinars, along with more information about the farm bill, are available at   

Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Investment Bill

Farm on Lake Champlain, VermontA bill to create a Vermont Working Landscape Enterprise Investment Fund and a board to oversee it will be heard on January 18 by key state legislative committees. The bill also proposes a national marketing campaign to celebrate and promote Vermont’s working lands economy, and planning tools to support enterprises related to farm and forest products. The measure would implement many of the steps outlined in Investing in Our Farm and Forest Future, an action plan developed by the Vermont Working Lands Partnership. 


It’s Time! No Farms No Food Rally® 2012: February 15

Young women holding beetsDo you care about local food and farms in New York state? Join farmers, local foods advocates and community leaders by registering for the No Farms No Food® Rally in Albany to support funding and legislation that strengthens our farm and food economy; protects farmland and the environment; and increases access to locally grown food. New York’s state constitution requires Governor Andrew Cuomo to release his executive budget by January 18. Cuomo’s proposed budget will tell us a lot about where he stands on the issues. Stay
tuned with up-to-the-minute farm and food news from the state capital by friending us on Facebook.

Owasco Lake Conservation Blueprint

Cover of Owasco Lake Blueprint ReportThe Owasco Lake Agricultural Conservation Blueprint, which we developed in partnership with the city of Auburn and neighboring communities, is now available online. Owasco Lake, located in Central New York, is a small Finger Lake with a large watershed—nearly 205 square miles in size—that provides the drinking water for the city of Auburn. The actions recommended in the Blueprint will help the agricultural community take proactive steps to improve water quality in Owasco Lake while strengthening the economic viability of farming in the watershed.

Transitioning Farms to the Next Generation in New York

Panel discussion at Hudson Valley ForumThirty percent of farmers in New York state are over the age of 65. They manage nearly two million acres of farmland and forest—nearly one-third of all the farmland in the state. More than 100 people, representing 50 organizations, attended our forums in the Hudson Valley and Western New York recently to discuss the issue of transitioning farms to the next generation. Participants tackled the dual challenges of helping the senior generation pass down their farms while assisting a new generation in securing land and succeeding in farming.


Farms Improving Water Quality in the Chesapeake Bay: A New Study

Farm next to a pond in PennsylvaniaFor a farmer, like any business owner or operator, the business of agriculture holds many risks. Addressing how this risk matches up to the adoption of on-farm conservation practices was the topic of a recent feasibility study we completed in collaboration with AgFlex, Inc. and Kieser and Associates. The study explored the conservation practice adoption process of farmers in Pennsylvania and will help our work in addressing farm conservation issues across the country.


Share Your Story About Farms and FarmlandFarm and fence in New Mexico

Every state has experienced the loss of farm and ranch land over the past 30 years. We want to hear what drives your passion for farms and farmland. Whether you’re a farmer carrying on the multi-generational family business, or you have a commitment to the local offerings at your favorite farmers market, please tell us your story about why you share our vision to save the land that sustains us. 

Young male farmer in a fieldIs a Young Generation of Farmers on the Rise?

More than five times as many farmers in the United States are age 65 and older than age 35 and younger. So understanding the generational shift on farms and ranches is critical to the future of  farming in America. Many young adults are now seeking opportunities in farming, but it can be difficult for them to get started and keep their farms successful. Organizations like the National Young Farmers Coalition are springing up across the country to help support the next generation of farmers and ranchers. We are also working to address these challenges, most recently by hosting farmland transition forums in New York state.


Two members of Congress, Rep. James McGovern of Massachusetts and Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine, shared their visions for Northeast local and regional food systems in the farm bill during a  webinar hosted by American Farmland Trust.

2,331 additional acres of prime farmland were protected through the Pennsylvania Agricultural Land Preservation program, adding to the total of 457,537 acres on 4,229 farms protected through the program to date.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a measure that would allow wind turbine development on farmland preserved through a state program.

A farmland protection project has sparked collaboration among farmers, an American Indian tribe and environmental groups in Washington’s Puget Sound Region to use waste products for energy production while protecting salmon habitat.

The Community Food and Agriculture Coalition of Missoula County, Montana, released an interactive subdivision map detailing the placement and potential impact of proposed development on working lands.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection announced that many landowners in the state are not requesting the Farmland Preservation tax credits that they’re entitled to receive.

Conservationists from across the commonwealth are making plans for the Virginia Conservation Network's Lobby Day in Richmond on January 23rd.

FoodCorps is now accepting applications for its second class of service members and will expand to include projects in Montana and Connecticut.

The Land Contract Guarantee Program, now available nationwide through the Farm Service Agency, aims to encourage retiring farmers to sell their land to beginning farmers.

Applications for grassland and farmland conservation programs in California are due February 15, and many other states have deadlines fast approaching. Visit the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service for more information.
Registration is open for the Farmers’ Market Federation of New York’s 2012 training conference March 8 to 10.

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