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Challenges in obesity, diet related diseases, hunger, rising energy costs, a growing population, dwindling water supplies and a changing climate require our attention, and it is our responsibility to lead the way for an advanced 21st century food supply."

— California Department of Food & Agriculture
Growing Local
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Improving Food farm and land use policies

For the past 30 years, we have led the charge for farmland protection and conservation at the federal and state levels.  Our Growing Local initiative broadens our federal and state policy agendas to support healthy farms, healthy food and healthy communities. We are advocating for policies to keep land available and affordable for farming, support the next generation of farmers, invest in regional food infrastructure, procure local food and ensure it is available to everyone.

Federal Policy

cows in field Reforming Federal Food Policy
The 2012 Farm Bill must embrace the growing consumer connection to healthy and local food. Farmers and ranchers need a mix of programs aimed at enhancing farm profitability in this area through innovative marketing and business strategies; product promotion and consumer education; and on-farm improvements or diversification.

Pennsylvania farm, courtesy NRCSA New Direction In Transportation Policy
We are working with several organizations on the reauthorization of the Transportation Bill to achieve a more sustainable transportation system that does not foster sprawl and reduces carbon emissions. We are taking the lead to advocate for provisions to protect farmland from development and promote regional food infrastructure to shorten the distance our food needs to travel from farm field to fork.

Arrow  Read A New Direction in Transportation Policy: American Farmland Trust's Vision for Change

California farmlandA Rightful Place at the Table for Local and Healthy Foods
The food that we eat directly affects our health, and U.S. agricultural policy directly impacts our food choices. In our 2008 Farm Bill campaign, we worked with partners to link nutritional guidelines established by the health community—which call for greater consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains—to changes in agricultural policy. New policies and provisions in the 2008 Farm Bill reflect the increasing public demand for programs that support local food.

State Policy

  • Working Lands Alliance
    A pivotal part of our advocacy work in Connecticut is performed with the Working Lands Alliance (WLA), a statewide coalition of farmers, conservationists, anti-hunger groups and municipal leaders working together to increase the state’s commitment to farmland preservation.
  • Smart Growth Policy Work in California
    San Joaquin Valley BlueprintFarm Field
    A policy council has adopted a “blueprint” for future development that could save 118,000 acres of farmland in this premier California agricultural region by 2050. We recommended a more ambitious growth scenario to the council that would have cut farmland loss in half while also reducing both energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent.
  • Food Policy Council, Massachusetts
    We continue to work with a group of food, farm and conservation stakeholders to create a Massachusetts Food Policy Council.  The council would work to advance several food system goals including increased production, sales and consumption of Massachusetts-grown foods and to train, retain and recruit farmers and provide for the continued economic viability of local food production, processing and distribution.
  • Conservation and Farm Groups Call on Congress to Address Dairy Crisis
    Dairy farmers in the Northeast and around the country are facing severe and prolonged low milk prices—prices that are well below the farmers’ costs of production. We are among 36 conservation groups, farm organizations, local governments and others across the Northeast that joined together requesting that Congress and the Obama administration take quick action to address the crisis facing dairy farmers.
  • Giving Young Maryland Farmers a Boost
    One of the biggest hurdles for the younger generation wanting to enter farming is the sky-high cost of land. At the final hour of the 2008 Maryland State General Assembly, state legislators passed Senate Bill 662, which adds a 25 percent surcharge to the existing Agriculture Land Transfer Tax, targeting the new funds specifically at innovative programs including the Next Generation Acquisition Program.
  • Landowners Looking for Tax Savings? Massachusetts Enacts State Conservation Credit
    Capping a year of significant legislative gains for agriculture and land protection, the Massachusetts Legislature and Governor Deval Patrick joined together in the waning days of the 2008 legislative session to enact legislation creating a state conservation tax credit.  At our urging, the measure also creates a study commission to develop recommendations regarding whether to make the credit transferable. Visit our Massachusetts page.
  • Massachusetts Ag Day
    Ag Day is an opportunity to remind legislators of the importance of agriculture and to spread the No Farms No Food message. Representative Dennis Guyer of Massachusetts, in a speech to participants, noted that No Farms No Food message says it all.
American Farmland Trust