Horse Farms Forever to Hold Conservation Summit - American Farmland Trust

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Horse Farms Forever to Hold Conservation Summit 

Billy Van Pelt II, American Farmland Trust senior director of external relations will give the keynote address alongside guest speaker, former Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and CEO of Ducks Unlimited, Adam Putnam. 

Preserving Open Spaces and Beautiful Places will take place at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club from 12:00 PM to 2:30 PM on November 19, 2020. 

Commissioner Adam Putnam, CEO, Ducks Unlimited, will introduce the topic of land conservation and the importance of protecting Florida’s agricultural lands for future generations. He served as Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture and his passion for hunting, angling, and conservation will be an inspiration for community leaders and landowners. 

Billy Van Pelt II, Senior Director of External Relations, will present American Farmland Trust’s report Farms Under Threat: The State of the States about the loss of prime agricultural lands across the nation with a focus on the southeast, Florida and Marion County. 

AFT’s research found, between 2001 and 2016, 11 million acres of the nation’s irreplaceable farmland and ranchland, was lost or fragmented, equivalent to 2000 acres per day. Roughly 4.4 million of these acres were “Nationally Significant” – the best soils in the country according to AFT’s PVR rating which measures Productivity, Versatility and Resiliency.  

What’s more, farmland is at severe risk in Kentucky and Florida, where much of the U.S. equine industry’s farms are located. Six of the top twelve states with the most threatened agricultural land are in the South according to the new report – Texas (1), North Carolina (2), Tennessee (4), Georgia (5), South Carolina (8) and Florida (11). In addition, states in this region of the country have enacted fewer public policies to protect agricultural land.   

The purpose of the Summit is to inspire community leaders and landowners to protect the horse farms and agricultural lands that are fundamental to Marion County’s global brand as the Horse Capital of the World®.  

For Press Wishing to Attend: 

The event will be live-streamed. Virtual attendance is an option. See the registration form to sign up. 

Summit Information: Busy Shires Byerly, HFF Director of Conservation Strategies, or 352-234-7175 

RSVP to attend virtually by November 19, 2020: Sara Powell Fennessy, HFF Director of Community Affairs, or 859-553-5510 


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 6.5 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on millions of additional acres and supported thousands of farm families. 


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