Farmers and Ranchers Speak Out on Changing U.S. Farm Policy
Producers at eight recently completed American Farmland Trust (AFT) forums conducted across the nation said globalization, federal deficits, World Trade Organization negotiations and changing consumer demands are creating an environment for change. The producers hoped change would bring new policies that reduce distortions, expand conservation, help rural communities, enhance food and energy security and improve nutrition. The forum results will help AFT and its partners develop a blueprint for farm bill reform that will be released early next year.
USDA Seeks Your Input at Upcoming U.S. Farm Policy Forums
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced August forums in Iowa, California, Pennsylvania, Wyoming and Indiana for public input on federal farm bill policy. The sessions will include an open comment period in addition to participant responses to specific farm bill policy questions posed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). American Farmland Trust encourages you to show your support for farm policies that link financial support to stewardship, rather than the production of commodities, by attending the forums or submitting written comments to the USDA.
Help us Celebrate AFT's 25th Anniversary
American Farmland Trust (AFT) has worked across the country for 25 years to protect the best land, plan for agriculture and keep the land healthy. The AFT 25th Anniversary Web page will highlight our celebration with weekly stories, audios and videos commemorating significant milestones and achievements in agriculture and conservation. We want to hear from you! Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with personal anecdotes (no more than 150 words), audio clips or a video that reflect the successes and/or challenges of farmland protection in America during the past 25 years to share on the Web page. Watch this week’s featured video of the Brubaker family sharing the reasons why farmland protection is important for their future and the communities near their Lancaster, Pennsylvania dairy farm.
Land Conservation Grows Across the Nation
The commitment to farm and ranch land protection continues to gain momentum. This year alone, four states—Hawaii, Washington, Georgia and Texas—created purchase of agricultural conservation easement (PACE) programs, bringing the total number of state-level programs in the nation to 26. In addition, the states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Acme Township, Michigan, each increased funding to pay for their PACE programs. Finally, Ohio’s governor signed into law a unique bill that will give tax incentives to farmers who voluntarily enter into 10-year contracts to conserve their land.
Agriculture Takes Top Billing in Rural Communities
"Agriculture is an important business in Larimer County. If you choose to live among the farms and ranches of our rural countryside, do not expect county government to intervene in the normal day-to-day operations of your agri-business neighbors." This is one of the messages in a booklet newcomers to rural areas receive from a local government in Colorado. Rural counties in Arizona, Montana, New Mexico and Texas have produced similar handbooks. States and communities committed to protecting agriculture are adding these new tools to complement right-to-farm ordinances, inform new residents about the reality of living near farms and ranches, and support agricultural businesses.
News Briefs from Around the Country
The Maryland Department of Agriculture and the Maryland Agricultural Commission are holding seven listening sessions throughout August to discuss how to sustain the future of agriculture in the state.
On July 14, Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell signed into law Growing Greener II (Act 45 of 2005), a $625 million measure that will allocate funding over the next six years for environmental cleanup and conservation projects throughout the Commonwealth.
A newly created $2 million revolving loan fund will increase the capacity for land conservation in western Massachusetts.
The North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission is using tobacco settlement funds for funding initiatives and educational materials that will support farmers throughout the state.
American Farmland Trust California Director Ed Thompson, Jr. testified at a joint hearing on the World Trade Organization and the 2007 Farm Bill to raise issues about whether California agriculture is getting its fair share of the benefit of federal farm programs.
Remember to bid with your lid! American Farmland Trust (AFT) was selected as one if three conservation organizations to receive a percentage of a $100,000 donation from Stonyfield Farm based on consumer voting. Vote for AFT today by logging on to http://www.stonyfield.com/ and entering one vote for AFT or collecting the limited edition lids from Stonyfield Farm Yogurt Cups and mailing them (with your name and address, AND indicating your vote for AFT) to: Stonyfield Farm, PO Box 4840, Manchester, NH 03108-4840. Each lid equals one vote for AFT.
The New American Farmer, 2nd edition, a new book by the Sustainable Agriculture Network, features a variety of successful farmers and ranchers who have pioneered new, independent approaches to agriculture with their own brand of stewardship, farming savvy and entrepreneurship.