Use of Transfer of Development Rights On the Rise
Increasingly, states and local communities are utilizing transfer of development rights (TDR) programs to shift development from important agricultural areas to designated growth zones closer to municipal services. The programs provide market incentives for developers to purchase TDR credits from willing landowners. TDR programs also offer a low-cost, politically acceptable mechanism for agricultural land protection that doesn't rely on public funding. AFT's Farmland Information Center provides a compilation of the 27 state enabling laws and 32 local ordinances for TDR programs across the country.
New Program in Massachusetts Links Farms to Underserved Consumers
In western Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley, an innovative program is building new bridges between farms and urban consumers. Dubbed “Farm2City,” the project aims to open new markets and strengthen existing markets in Hampden County, MA for local farmers while improving access to farmers’ markets in urban areas for low income and minority consumers. Farm2City is going one step further to increase the availability and accessibility of fresh, local foods by bringing farm-fresh produce to urban workplaces and other community locations.
Hurricanes Impact Agriculture and Budget Reconciliation
The devastation left in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita dominates the news, but the impacts on agriculture are largely untold. Preliminary estimates by the U.S. Department of Agriculture place damages to agriculture at approximately $900 million. Several pieces of legislation intended to help farmers affected by the hurricanes are before Congress, including the Emergency Agricultural Disaster Assistance Act of 2005. The hurricanes also impacted Congress’ attempts to trim $3.1 billion in federal agricultural spending.
Protecting Farms in One of the Nation's Most Threatened Agricultural Regions
California's San Joaquin Valley is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country. Yet, just 60 miles east of the San Francisco Bay area, it also is one of the most threatened areas. American Farmland Trust (AFT) is working to protect the valley's farms. Thanks to a gift from a valley resident, AFT recently purchased a 50-acre parcel near Stockton and will resell it, subject to a purchase of agricultural conservation easement. The proceeds will be used, along with future gifts from the original donor, to protect additional farmland in the area.
Seniors Eat Healthy and Invest in the Local Community
Many low income seniors can now put fresh, local, healthy food on their tables while supporting local farms. The Senior FarmShare Program provides $100 worth of the local farm harvest to income-eligible seniors in certain Massachusetts counties. Maine has a similar program that also distributes food shares. The federal Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) awards grants to help provide low income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged at such places as farmers' markets and roadside stands. American Farmland Trust is calling for flexibility for states to implement the SFMNP in a manner that meets their specific needs and populations instead of adopting a one-size-fits-all approach.
News Briefs from Around the Country
Remember to nominate your favorite deserving farmer for American Farmland Trust’s 2006 Steward of the Land Award by December 1, 2005!
A combination of state and federal funds have been earmarked to protect a 227-acre dairy farm in Wisconsin's North Branch Milwaukee River Wildlife and Farming Heritage Area.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service announced the Conservation Security Program watersheds for 2006.
Registration is open for participants from nine western states to attend the Northern Regional Successful Strategies for Small and Limited Resource Farmers and Ranchers Conference. The two day conference, presented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency, will be held November 15th and 16th in Billings, Montana.
Upcoming U.S. Department of Agriculture farm bill listening sessions will be held in Arkansas, Georgia and Colorado.
You can still bid with your lid! American Farmland Trust (AFT) was selected as one of three conservation organizations to receive a percentage of a $100,000 donation from Stonyfield Farm based on consumer voting. The lids may be gone from the store, but you can still vote for AFT until October 31, 2005 by logging on to http://www.stonyfield.com/ and entering one vote for AFT.