American Farmland Trust, Visit Horse Country Announce Strategic Partnership
Lexington, KY – American Farmland Trust and Visit Horse Country have announced a strategic partnership aligning AFT’s mission of farmland protection with the agritourism experiences offered through Horse Country and its members.
“AFT is proud to partner with Visit Horse Country and as a national organization, supports the conservation of equine land,” said Billy Van Pelt, AFT director of external relations and senior advisor. “We strongly support the thoroughbred industry and want to draw attention to the importance of the equine industry and the permanent protection of its ‘factory floor’, farmland.”
“Most people aren’t regularly in contact with our critical productive farmland, but our experiences allow guests to engage in a personal and intimate way with agriculture,” said Anne Sabatino Hardy, executive director of Visit Horse Country. “We’re excited to help carry the message of how important it is to keep farmers on the land, and preserve that land in a truly hands-on way.”
Agritourism is a powerful tool for advocacy and awareness, and a growing segment of tourism overall, with 62 million people visiting farms, ranches and wineries annually, according to the National Tour Association. Likewise, awareness of land preservation and sustainability has trended upward as a concern for Americans in recent years.
“While we know the messaging of preservation is serious, we also recognize and celebrate the value of fun,” said Hardy. “Letting people get up close and personal with the horse, land and people of Horse Country really is a delightful way to spend time and, ultimately to fall a little bit in love.”
Experiences at Visit Horse Country member locations are offered daily, and open equine locations around Central Kentucky to guests from around the United States and the globe. Since the nonprofit’s formation in 2015, Visit Horse Country has welcomed more than 140,000 guests and counts the premier stallion, nursery, clinics and other equine organizations among its membership, with the unifying mission of fan development for the horse and Kentucky.
American Farmland Trust has counted among its supporters many farm owners and community leaders also participating with Visit Horse Country’s touring program. AFT partners with land trusts across the nation. Bluegrass Land Conservancy is AFT’s local land trust partner in Kentucky.
American Farmland Trust is the only national conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting environmentally sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land. Since 1980, AFT’s innovative work has helped to permanently protect more than 6.8 million acres of farmland and ranchland and led the way for the adoption of conservation practices on millions more. No Farms, No Food. Learn more at www.farmland.org.