|Washington, D.C., February 29, 2012—“Today the USDA released a “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass,” a fascinating internet tool that shows where USDA programs have assisted the growth and development of local food market opportunities,” says Katherine “Kitty” Smith, Vice-President of Programs and Chief Economist at American Farmland Trust (AFT). “Among the programs cited is the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP), which is administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.”
AFT was instrumental in the development of FRPP and has advocated for increased funding for, and improvements to, the program as a way to provide greater federal support for state and local efforts that protect agricultural land. The FRPP is a crucial national tool in farmland protection, helping local partners to compensate landowners for retiring the development rights on their land through conservation easements.
“At AFT, we see a two-way street between farmland protection and the development of food market infrastructure,” adds Smith. “Giving farmers tools to protect their land ultimately helps ensure markets for their products, just as those markets help keep farmers on the land.”
Through the use of a program like FRPP, farmland remains in agriculture in perpetuity, which helps farming families transition their farmland to a new generation of operators. “FRPP’s ability to help farmers pass on their land to the next generation is especially critical in urban-fringe areas, where land values and taxes are high—because that is where the threat of land being converted out of agriculture is greatest,” adds Smith.
“As the 2012 Farm Bill is finalized this spring, it’s critical that we continue to support robust funding for conservation programs like FRPP, in order to give farmers the innovative tools they need to steward the land and capture market opportunities,” concludes Smith.
Additional information on the FRPP program and other farmland protection tools is available through American Farmland Trust’s Farmland Information Center at www.farmlandinfo.org.
American Farmland Trust is the nation’s leading conservation organization dedicated to saving America’s farm and ranch land, promoting environmentally sound farming practices and supporting a sustainable future for farms. Since its founding in 1980 by a group of farmers and citizens concerned about the rapid loss of farmland to development, AFT has helped save millions of acres of farmland from development and led the way for the adoption of conservation practices on millions more.
AFT’s national office is located in Washington, DC. Phone: 202-331-7300. For more information, visit www.farmland.org.