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Baise, Midwest Director for American Farmland Trust, has recently been
reappointed to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Advisory Committee on Agriculture Statistics. In this role, Baise helps to advise the U.S. Secretary of
Agriculture and NASS on the conduct of the agricultural census and surveys,
critical tools in helping to understand the landscape of American agriculture.
“I am pleased to be reappointed by Secretary Vilsack,” said Baise. “U.S. farmers,
agribusinesses and consumers depend on the valuable information gathered
through the various NASS surveys, crop reports and Agricultural Census. NASS
employees work hard to provide accurate and timely information so crucial to
making sound agricultural policy and business decisions.” Congratulations,
All 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.
We’re sharing accomplishments and inspiration from 2012 in the words of our expert staff.
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
Precision Agriculture and Water
of our work in the Ohio River Basin, American Farmland Trust recently launched
a two-year project to develop and refine the first credit estimator for precision agriculture variable rate technology (VRT) practices in water quality trading programs. Data from universities, John
Deere and Trimble will compare crop uptake budgets with applied nutrients (phosphorus
and nitrogen) and use modeling at the farm-field level with edge-of-field
monitors to account for excess nutrients. We will test and refine the resulting
protocol with farmers and Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky state regulatory
agencies. The work is supported by a USDA Natural Resource Conservation
Services Conservation Innovation Grant, The Mosaic Foundation and collaborating partners.
Full Speed Ahead for Interstate
Water Quality Trading
Trust met with project partners in Columbus, Ohio, on November 13 to
design an online registry for the Ohio River Basin Water Quality Trading
Market; review our modeling, credit calculation tools and in-stream
procedures; and discuss our initial farmer engagements and contracts.
the next two years, the project will execute pilot trades with farmers
Kentucky and Indiana. These states signed the
nation’s first interstate pilot trading plan in August 2012 to allow power
plants and municipal wastewater treatment plants to purchase nutrient
reductions from farmers.
Improving Water Quality in
October 31 and November 1, American Farmland Trust, Sand County Foundation,
Iowa Soybean Association and The Nature Conservancy convened the third meeting
of leaders involved with water quality projects in the Midwest. Forty-four
leaders from Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois exchanged
information about their USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service Mississippi
River Basin Initiative (MRBI) projects. The group discussed ways to engage
farmers, target efforts and scale up pilot efforts into broader initiatives.
Overall, they identified two trends for project success: completing a watershed
plan with local farmers and using performance-based tools that provide feedback.
American Farmland Trust Midwest Director Appointed to State Conservation Committees
Mike Baise, Midwest Director for American Farmland Trust, recently joined the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service State Technical Committee in two states—Indiana and Illinois. Appointed by Jane Hardisty, Indiana State Conservationist, and Ivan Dozier, Illinois State Conservationist, respectively, these committees work across each state to implement conservation legislation and programs supported through the farm bill. “Mike is well-deserving of these appointments,” says Ann Sorensen, Director of Research at American Farmland Trust. “He brings a unique passion and enthusiastic vision to the work of American Farmland Trust throughout the Midwest. We are excited that he can bring these qualities to help shape critical conservation work in both Indiana and Illinois.”
Indiana Bill Will Help Ease Generational Transfer of Farmland
This spring, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed a bill to phase out the state inheritance tax. The plan will ease transfer of farmland and other farm assets by reducing associated inheritance taxes up until 2022, at which point the tax will be completely repealed. “With the repeal of the inheritance tax, Governor Daniels and Indiana legislatures have recognized one of the many struggles facing family farms,” says Baise. “I applaud their work to help keep farmland in production and empower the next generation of farmers.”
Midwest: The Year in Review
American Farmland Trust has fought to protect farmland in the Midwest for 27 years. Sometimes called America’s breadbasket, the Midwest is blessed with prime farmland soils that are the envy of the world, but we know we can’t afford to take these priceless resources for granted. That’s why we’ve been hard at work in this important region, and have made significant progress over the past year.
farmland protection in Harrison County
With more than 108,000 agricultural acres threatened by residential development, Harrison County worked for several years—with advice and encouragement from American Farmland Trust—to implement a local program to purchase conservation easements from willing landowners. A Farmland and Open Space Conservation Survey conducted by Purdue University confirmed residents support for the county's efforts and three programs are now helping to protect important farmland:
Ultimate Farmland preservation tour
Almost 200 leaders from Indiana have participated in our Ultimate Farmland Preservation Tour—a four-day bus tour through Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey; three states with established, successful farmland protection programs that have been operating for over 20 years. This rolling classroom teaches participants the nuts and bolts of how to create a successful farmland protection program at the local level. Many participants have gone on to work in their communities to communicate the many values of protecting farmland.
Sixth Oldest Farm in Indiana Is Protected
Since 1802, the Mont Clair Farm’s productive and well managed soils have produced a bounty of food and, at times, fiber. Mark and Rebecca Ewing permanently protected the 500-acre farm this spring through a conservation easement, and described why they chose to make the decision: “Our ancestors bore numerous hardships to keep Mont Clair Farm together for this length of time. We realized the profit gained from developing our land could buy nothing more valuable than our descendants owning and appreciating the farm as it has been for seven generations.”
2717 Blue Ridge Court
Bloomington, IN 47408
To learn more about agriculture in your state, visit the Indiana state profile page at the Farmland Information Center.