American Farmland Trust Elevates New Leaders to Promote Farm Viability
A historical commitment to farmers and ranchers is growing to meet emerging challenges
Washington, DC – American Farmland Trust announced new leaders who will drive forward efforts to support the ability of farmers and ranchers to earn a living from the land and achieve their business, personal, and family goals in agriculture. This effort will bring together experts from across AFT to initially broaden direct-to-farmer grant programs, expand business technical assistance, and advance Smart Solar℠.
“Farmers and ranchers need to make a living in order to feed Americans and provide many other benefits to society,” said David Haight, AFT Vice President for Programs. Challenges from severe weather, market changes and disruptions, and other factors make this dramatically more difficult – particularly for small and mid-sized as well as underserved producers. AFT has worked to strengthen the viability of farms and ranches since our founding in 1980. New leadership will galvanize support from across AFT to enable us to do even more in years to come.”
Nathan L’Etoile, former AFT New England Regional Director has been appointed National Farm Viability Managing Director and will lead efforts to elevate farm viability across AFT’s programming, specifically AFT’s direct grant making to farmers, business technical assistance work and solar programming.
“Agriculture is an exciting and dynamic industry, but it is so much more than that. It brings us all together, in the fields, in our homes, and in our communities,” said L’Etoile. “Building on AFT’s 40 years of work with farmers, ranchers and partner organizations, I am eager to get to continue those partnerships and build new ones as we secure a viable future for America’s farmers and ranchers.”
Ethan Winter, former Northeast Solar Specialist, becomes AFT National Smart Solar Director where he will set and implement AFT’s strategy for solar energy generation and farmland conservation.
“Solar is an essential strategy for preventing run-away climate change and it can also offer valuable economic opportunities for farmers,” said Winter. “Working with innovators in energy, agriculture, policy, and applied research, and most importantly with America’s farming community, AFT is elevating Smart Solar as a national priority. We need renewable energy and productive, resilient farms, and I am excited to be advancing this effort.”
So much important work is already underway.
With support from Tillamook, Tractor Supply and others, AFT has awarded nearly $5M in grants to help farmers launch, grow, and sustain farmers and ranchers in the face of forces impacting the food and agricultural system, including the COVID-19 pandemic, changing markets, severe weather, and climate change.
AFT has also worked to expand farmer and rancher access to experts that can help them achieve business and personal goals. AFT and partners have urged the Biden Administration and Congress to allocate funding for such support, often called business technical assistance, including a coalition letter signed by more than 140 organizations urging funding in the next Farm Bill. AFT, Black Family Land Trust and The Carrot Project were awarded a $3 million grant from USDA NIFA to support 20 organizations providing business technical assistance to underserved producers and assist with the National Farm Viability Conference.
In 2022, AFT’s released Smart Solar℠ guiding principles to advance solar energy implementation to fight climate change while protect farmland. Progressive solar developers are now working with AFT on-site selection and to implement dual-use or agrivoltaics and community solar installations that provide income to farmers without disrupting the farming operation.
Every part of AFT’s mission to save the land that sustains us by protecting farmland, implementing sound farming practices, and keeping farmers on the land cannot succeed without solving for farm viability.
A blog series launched today will detail how projects across AFT serve the viability of farms and ranches and ensure the ability of the next generation to feed, fuel, and clothe America.
Experts interested in joining AFT can go to AFT Careers to apply.
American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms, No Food message. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.8 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on millions of additional acres and supported thousands of farm families.