Sam Smidt Named AFT’s New Director of Land Use and Protection Research - American Farmland Trust

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Sam Smidt Named AFT’s New Director of Land Use and Protection Research 

(Washington, D.C.) American Farmland Trust has named Sam Smidt as National Director of Land Use and Protection Research to develop and implement the organization’s land use protection research agenda.  

Among his duties, Smidt will lead the Land Use and Protection Research Initiative, which includes and builds upon the existing Farms Under Threat projects. He will also be part of both AFT’s internal virtual research team that discusses and prioritizes overall research needs and AFT’s farmland protection unit which will work with Sam to help identify and prioritize research questions that could advance farmland protection and retention efforts and AFT’s policy and program development.  

“We could not be any more thrilled and grateful for someone with Sam’s impressive background to lead AFT’s efforts to advance farmland protection and retention,” said Beth Sauerhaft, AFT Vice President of Programs. “Sam is a natural leader, and his extensive agricultural background will prove invaluable in advancing AFT’s mission of promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land.”   

Smidt’s career in academia and agriculture has prepared him well for his new leadership role at AFT. As an Assistant Professor at The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Smidt was director of the Land and Water Lab which was widely regarded for its elite teaching and research related to sustainable agricultural and natural resources management. With an extensive agricultural background, Smidt is skilled at evaluating and modeling land transformation impacts on human and natural systems. He is active among private, non-profit, governmental, and intergovernmental organizations, and is currently funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Science Foundation.  

Smidt is a native of Morton, Illinois, the pumpkin capital of the world, and he has graduate degrees in both earth and environmental science and policy from Michigan State University and The University of Iowa.  

“I cannot think of too many places where I’d want to progress from my academic career and apply what I have learned thus far than with AFT,” said Smidt. “Joining AFT is an ideal next step in my career to build upon the work I have done in agriculture and land protection and take it to new heights. I am excited about the chance to be creative, build upon existing work of projects such as Farms Under Threat, and shape the future of AFT’s protection research and policy.”  


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. 

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Michael Shulman

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