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April 7 & 8, 2011
Marriott Hotel at Metro Center, Washington, D.C.

 
National Agricultural Landscapes Forum
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National Agricultural Landscapes Forum

The National Agricultural Landscapes Forum brought together thought-leaders from around the country to foster a deeper understanding and dialogue about major trends and issues shaping the future of agriculture, conservation and rural regions. Held April 7 and 8, 2011 in the shadow of a federal government shutdown, the forum put forward policy and program opportunities to increase government effectiveness and engender cross-jurisdictional collaborations that improve agricultural and conservation outcomes in a sober budgetary environment.

Hosted and organized by American Farmland Trust, Farm Foundation NFP and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Forum addressed two key resource issues: Landscape Integrity and Water Security.

Summary of Forum Findings

Barn on ranch land Improve Jurisdictional Flexibility and Share Responsibility - Local, state, and tribal officials must be able to make decisions and innovate based on local conditions.



Cornfield

Improve Program Efficiency and Inter-Agency Cooperation – Participants called for inter-agency learning and cooperation to improve conservation outcomes.




Farmers at the market

Target Regulations and Reduce Uncertainty – Participants called upon USDA to better direct resources to deal with persistent challenges and to harmonize regulations to avoid redundant requirements.

Woman on tractor

Leverage Program Assistance to Maximize Program Effectiveness – Regulatory approaches must be balanced with investments focused on solving problems. Anticipating substantially reduced federal funds, participants saw partnerships and leveraging state, local and private funding as essential to achieving conservation goals.

Planting

Expand Market-Based Solutions – Government can play a supportive role in developing ecosystem market regulatory and environmental quality standards, as well as ensuring policy drivers and performance-based outcomes to encourage participation.

Melnik Farmily from Massachusetts

Support People on the Land – Support the next generation of farmers with tools designed to support access to land and financing, mentoring, marketing and managing downside risk. Further, the unique historical and jurisdictional issues for minority and other underserved populations must be addressed to ensure equitable treatment.

Food at a farmers market

Ensure Food Security – Decisions affecting land and water use are critical in determining whether the U.S. will be able to produce enough food to meet future demands but receive little policy discussion. We must substantially increase sustainable production both to supply local and regional markets and to feed an estimated 9 billion people in 2050.

Sunset on a wheat field

Plan for Agriculture – A common Forum theme was “A failure to plan is a plan to fail.” The agricultural landscape is part of the human environment and as such federal policy innovations are needed to help communities and regions plan for agriculture within an integrated approach across all landscape uses.

Hoop house

Invest More in Research and Technology to Accelerate Innovation – Participants identified research needs and called for adoption of technologies and innovations to improve natural resources management, including the need for geospatial technology and improved measurement capacity and tools to provide producers with a direct feedback response.

NRCS logo

Pursue New Modes of Operation - Participants suggested that in the 21st Century, NRCS would have to change its modus operandi from preventing loss, conserving and maintaining resources to a greater focus on improving and building soils, increasing water reserves and reclaiming land for agriculture including in urban areas.

 

View the Complete Summary Proceedings [PDF] of the National Agricultural Landscapes Forum

View AFT's detailed notes from all sessions of the Forum

View fully captioned video recordings of the Forum

View Forum panelist PowerPoint presentations

NRCS Farm Foundation
American Farmland Trust
 
 
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