Could Investing in Farmland Protection Help Save America’s Dairy Farms?
It’s not news to anyone involved in farming and ranching that the dairy industry is facing tough times. Milk prices are down, consolidation is on the rise, and family farms are increasingly struggling just to keep the lights on.
At American Farmland Trust, we support America’s dairy farmers every day the best way we know how: building robust farmland protection programs across the nation. Investing in farmland protection is one important way to help dairy farmers stay in business, reinvest in their operations, or perhaps even transition to new lines of supportive businesses.
During National Dairy Month this June, we want to share a story that highlights the power farmland protection can play in securing a future for America’s dairy farms.
In Michigan, a special program managed by AFT has helped ensure the 119-year–old Bradford Family Farm in Kent County can continue to thrive as a dairy farm and remain in agriculture forever.
The permanent protection of Bradford Family Farm was made by possible by Owen and Ellen Love, a pair of forward-thinking farmers that wanted to make sure the sale of their own farm could help protect local land for future generations. In 2010, the Love’s 660-acre farm was sold, subject to an agricultural conservation easement, with the proceeds being used to create the Love Fund. Today, the Love Fund allows AFT to work with land trusts across Michigan to preserve state farmland with conservation easements.
Not only did the protection of the Bradford Homestead parcel help the Bradford family, it also enabled the Kent County Purchase of Development Rights Program and Sparta Township, in which the farm is located, to complete a block of contiguous protected land and grow the concentration of protected land in a critical center of regional agricultural land protection work. A region that has seen the boundaries of the urban edge of Grand Rapids – Michigan’s fastest growing city – press out into the farming community.
AFT supports dairy farmers across America and thanks these farming families and their herds for the fresh, tasty, nutritious products we all enjoy each day.
Interested in learning more about protecting your farm with an agricultural conservation easement? Contact Ben Kurtzman, AFT’s land protection projects director, at (413) 586-9330 x. 12 and firstname.lastname@example.org; or the Farmland Information Center at (800) 370-4879 and email@example.com.