Introducing Angie Doucette – Midwest Farmland Protection Manager
I grew up in a rural area on the outskirts of a bustling military town in coastal North Carolina. My childhood home was surrounded by fields of corn, tobacco, cotton, and hog farms as far as the eye could see. Today, much of the farms are gone and rows of housing are in their place. Although the change was drastic, it did not happen overnight. Slowly, as the years passed and life took me to faraway places, the farms disappeared.
On one of my trips back home, as I noticed yet another new construction project where row crops used to be, I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to the farmers that used to care for this land and the products they produced? Were farms moving farther from town or disappearing altogether? I didn’t know it then, but those fleeting thoughts were the foundation for the direction my career would take.
Prior to joining AFT, I spent six years working in land protection at The Conservation Fund. During this time, most of my days were filled traversing the landscape, becoming intimately familiar with the hills and waterways, soils, native vegetation, and working lands that composed the fabric of Southeastern Wisconsin. It was through this work that I formed lifelong friendships with some of the most passionate and innovative conservationists I’ve had the opportunity to work with– the farmers of the Clean Farm Families.
I’m excited to be in my new role as the AFT Midwest Farmland Protection Manager. My role is to support the community in securing the agricultural land base for future generations. This includes raising awareness of the need for farmland protection funding at the local and state level, with the goal of driving legislators to adopt policies that better protect farmland. Also, a growing priority for AFT in the Midwest is at the intersection of farmland preservation and regenerative agricultural practices. Part of my work involves providing research, resources, and project support to build local partners’ capacity for efforts to accelerate the pace of farmland protection and the adoption of soil health practices on protected lands.
This sentiment is not wrong: the Midwest is a global leader in agricultural production. Home to over 200 million acres of cropland, the Midwest is responsible for producing billions of dollars in agricultural goods a year and 22.8 million jobs. While farming is so deeply engrained into the culture – and the landscape – of the Midwest, the preservation of farmland is often not considered a high priority as there’s so much of it. Unfortunately, AFT’s Farms Under Threat: The States of the States initiative paints a concerning picture of the future of farmland in the United States. Between 2001 and 2016, 11 million acres of farmland were converted to uses the jeopardize agriculture, with several Midwest states ranking among the highest in the country for conversion of farmland.
By expanding regenerative agricultural practices, land protection, land access, and farm viability, we can help to combat some of today’s most pressing issues – climate change, food insecurity, and access to clean water. I believe by working together with landowners, producers, government officials, and community partners, we can position the Midwest as a leader in building resilient food and farming systems that meet our present and future demands.