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E-News April 12, 2007

Farmers and Ranchers for the Earth

Farmer for the Earth - Dave LegvoldMinnesota farmer Dave Legvold is helping to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere by using a “no-till” method on his 700-acre farm, where he grows corn, soybeans and hay. Farms and ranches are increasingly valued by communities for the critical environmental benefits that they provide, including water filtration, flood control, air quality improvements, carbon sequestration, renewable energy and wildlife habitat. AFT has proposed a green payments program for the 2007 Farm Bill that would allow farmers to “sell” these environmental services—providing revenue for producers as well as environmental benefits for the public.

AFT’s North Carolina Guide to Planning for Agriculture

AFT’s new Planning for an Agricultural Future: A Guide for North Carolina Farmers and Local Governments, is a guide for farmers, planners and county commissioners and combines a general discussion of existing planning tools with specific examples from North Carolina communities that have developed innovative ways to support the agricultural sector.

Conservation, Healthy Food and Marker Bills, Oh My!

Hearings, debates and marker bills are just a few of the many efforts underway as the 2007 Farm Bill is written. “Marker bills” are pieces of legislation used to outline legislative priorities that could be included in the final legislation. AFT provided ideas and language for several marker bills and will participate closely as the final farm bill legislation unfolds. AFT endorsed the EAT Healthy for America Act, a marker bill that would increase the supply of fresh fruits, vegetables and other specialty crops for the world’s consumers and enhance conservation efforts. Rep. Kind (D-WI) and Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) introduced legislation called the Healthy Farms, Foods and Fuels Act of 2007 that has many similar conservation and healthy diets provisions. Representatives Thompson (D-CA) and Camp (R-MI) are working to make permanent the provisions of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, which gave farmers and ranchers who donated a conservation easement in 2006 or 2007 a tax deduction of up to 100 percent of their income.

More Funding for Farm and Ranch Land Protection

The USDA announced additional Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP) funds, bringing the total up to nearly $70 million dollars available to purchase conservation easements in fiscal year 2007. The original announcement only affirmed the availability of $48 million for FRPP, so this is an exciting step forward for farm and ranch land protection. AFT has worked hard on behalf of FRPP, which provides matching funds to help purchase development rights to keep productive farm and ranch land in agricultural uses.

Around the Country

California’s Fresno County is the nation’s top agriculture producing county and recent studies find the county in great jeopardy.

A group of partners is working together to address hunger, farming and health needs through the work of the South Carolina Food Policy Council.

In Pennsylvania, York County received $2.9 million in state dollars this year for farmland protection, the second-largest amount of funding it has received in its history.

In New York, the budget reached a three-way agreement and shows strong support for farm programs.

On April 17, voters within portions of northeastern Illinois will help decide the future of a water authority in the region.

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