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“New England has great potential to improve its food and energy security, reduce its carbon footprint, and sustain its family farms by increasing production and consumption of regional food, farm and forest products."

— Cris Coffin New England Director, American Farmland Trust

Keep New England Farmland in Farming: A Regional Convening
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What we knowNew England’s agricultural land base anchors the region’s 33,000 farm businesses that, along with related processing, generate more than $15 billion in economic output. Preserving our region’s productive agricultural land resources and assuring its availability are also critical to maintaining New England’s environmental quality and capacity for food security for future generations.

Where is New England’s best farmland and what are the threats to it? How can state governments help reduce farmland loss? How can farmland be made more available and affordable to both established and beginning farmers? These and other questions were the subject of a May 8, 2013 regional convening hosted by American Farmland Trust and Land For Good in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The meeting brought together more than 80 federal and state agency staff, Extension personnel, foundation officers, and representatives of conservation and farm organizations. It was an opportunity for information sharing and to think strategically about ways to work as a region to reduce farmland conversion, increase permanent protection, expand access and keep farmland in farming, especially in light of a changing climate.

Presentation Topics

What We Know (and Don’t Know) About New England Farmland (Cris Coffin, Kathy Ruhf, Kip Kolesinskas, Aaron Dushku) [Download presentation]

AFT PresentationSaving Farmland: Expanding our Modes and Strategies

  • Permanent Protection: Raising Public and Private Dollars—Successful Strategies (Cris Coffin, American Farmland Trust) [Download presentation]
  • Land Use Planning: What’s Possible in Home Rule New England (Kurt Gaertner, MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs)
  • Finding Synergies with Other Natural Resource Objectives in the Region (Rick Ellsmore & Ryan Dubois, USDA-NRCS New Hampshire State Office)
  • Strengthening the Region’s Farm Economy (Diane Bothfeld, VT Agency of Agriculture) [Download presentation]

Land AccessExpanding Farmland Access  [Download presentation for all below]

  • Access and “Linking” (Susan Phinney, Land Access Project)
  • Landowners and Landlords (Pete Westover, Land Access Project)
  • Farm Succession and Transfer (Kathy Ruhf, Land For Good)
  • Access: Policy and Program Ideas (Bob Wagner, Land Access Project)

Farmland productionKeeping New England Farmland in Farming     

  • Emphasizing the “Working” in Working Lands Protection (Lorraine Merrill, NH Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food)
  • Bringing Farmland Back into Production (Kip Kolesinskas, American Farmland Trust) [Download presentation] 
  • Farmland Resiliency in the Face of Climate Change (Vicky Drew, USDA-NRCS VT State Conservationist) [Download Presentation]

Break-Out Sessions

Notes highlighting opportunities for collaboration from each session

  • Building Awareness among Land Trusts, Towns and State Natural   Resource Agencies about Farmland Protection and Access                                                                     Discussion leader: Kathy Orlando, Sheffield (MA) Land Trust
  • Finding Protection and Management Overlap With Federal Natural Resource PartnersDiscussion leader: Kip Kolesinskas, American Farmland Trust
  • Bringing Farmland Back into Production                                                                   Discussion leader: J. Dippel, CT Department of Agriculture
  • Engaging Landowners and Investors around Farmland Access                                      Discussion leader: Ben Waterman, University of Vermont         
  • Rethinking PACE Programs to Meet Needs of Next Generation Farmers                  Discussion leader: Diane Bothfeld, VT Agency of Agriculture   
  • Addressing FRPP Challenges                                                                                         Discussion leader: Nancy Everhart,Vermont Housing and Conservation Board           
  • Linking Economic Viability and Land:  Strategies and Opportunities                            Discussion leader: Stephanie Gilbert, ME Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
  • Compensating Farmers for Environmental Benefits                                                     Discussion leader: Bob Wagner, American Farmland Trust

Maps used in the Convening


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New England Field Office

Cris Coffin, New England States Director
1 Short Street, Suite 2
Northampton, MA 01060-3952
(p)413-586-9330 ext. 29

New Hampshire
American Farmland Trust