My hope is that some day—long into the future—a Grossi family descendent will stand on the hill overlooking the adjacent Marin ranches and see well-managed farmland that has taken care of so many for so long.
2006 AFT President's Report
Ralph Grossi, president of American Farmland Trust (AFT), has been a part of the national nonprofit organization since its beginning in 1980. Grossi was an original member of the small, four-person board, and when he became AFT’s president in 1985, he planned to stay in the position for three years. Twenty years later, under Grossi’s guidance, AFT has become the leading national nonprofit organization focused on farmland protection. Grossi’s "deep passion for the issues" stem in part from his family’s farming history, four generations of partnerships in the dairy and beef business. Grossi is currently a managing partner of his family’s Marindale Ranch in Marin County, California.
AFT has helped to create more than 60 purchase of development rights (PDR) programs in 30 states across the country while helping tens of thousands of Americans and their communities protect more than a million acres of farm, ranch and forest land through education, technical assistance and policy development. Still, as Grossi points out, "our work is far from over." AFT has been leading discussions about farm bill reform and policy strategies that will ensure the farmers and ranchers of today and tomorrow have access to productive and healthy land:
No activities are as critical to the future of the nation's landscape and environment as agriculture and private forestry. Private crop, pasture and rangelands account for 50 percent of the land in the contiguous United States. Private forests account for another 20 percent. It is time for federal policy to recognize that through improved stewardship of the land, farmers and private forest owners can provide not only food and fiber, but also clean water, habitat for native wildlife, a barrier against sprawling development and other public benefits. —Ralph Grossi, June 6, 2001, testimony before U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Agriculture, Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Rural Development & Research
Grossi was a co-founder and chairman of the Marin Agricultural Land Trust, which protects Marin County, California, agricultural land by acquisition of conservation easements. He is currently serving on the board of directors of Smart Growth America, a coalition of national and regional organizations. Additionally, he serves on the advisory board of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, on the University of California President’s Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education. Grossi was a headline speaker at the Center for American Progress Conference in December 2005.
Grossi holds a number of national awards, including the 1976 Outstanding Young Farmer and Rancher of the California Farm Bureau Federation, the 1985 Feinstone Environmental Award and the 2002 Man of the Year in Service to Agriculture presented by Progressive Farmer magazine.