American Farmland Trust
E-News July 20, 2007

Connecticut Grown Communities and Affordable Housing

Rapid development and an increasingly fragmented agricultural industry have left many communities uncertain about how to ensure the long-term viability of farming. The Hartford region of Connecticut is no exception—with rich farmland, popular orchards and local farm stands under threat. AFT is part of a collaborative team working to address these issues through the Connecticut Grown Communities Project. The project is producing guides, developed by planning and agriculture experts, to help Connecticut municipalities promote farm-friendly local policies, conservation-based affordable housing and the preservation of rural character.

Is Our Farmland Ready for the Challenge?
River running through farmland

With temperatures on the rise, and hypoxic dead zones in rivers, gulfs, bays and oceans spreading rapidly, farmers are stepping up as good stewards of the environment. AFT's innovative solution to protecting water and soil quality, the BMP (Best Management Practices) Challenge, makes it easier for farmers to reduce fertilizer use and utilize conservation tillage practices while being protected from potential loss of income. In 2005, a nutrient management and conservation tillage program on thousands of corn acres in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin reduced greenhouse gas emissions by up to 69 percent and soil erosion by up to 78 percent. AFT is currently holding listening sessions with farmers, ranchers, policy makers and concerned citizens from all over the country on what eco-system services farms can provide. Stay tuned for more information on how agriculture can help keep your water clean, fight global warming and keep our planet healthy.

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Wolfie reading AFT's magazine
farmland protection efforts throughout the country, profiles of environmental stewards, updates on specific AFT projects, and a farm fresh recipe in every issue.

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The Numbers Don’t Lie: Purchase of Conservation Easement Programs Ensure a Future for Agriculture

According to new statistics released by AFT’s Farmland Information Center, state and local governments continue to invest in purchase of agricultural conservation easement (PACE) programs to ensure the economic viability of agriculture and to protect the nation’s farmland—even as Congress debates the future of the federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP). The annual survey shows state and local PACE programs spent more than $205 million to protect 130,959 acres of farm and ranch land in 2006. “In spite of tough budget decisions, state and local officials are allocating money toward agricultural land protection,” noted Bob Wagner, AFT’s managing director for field programs. “Congress should match their efforts to ensure that farmers and ranchers who want to protect their land are not turned away for lack of funding. We’d also like to see changes to the FRPP to make it more user-friendly for the state and local PACE programs—many of which predate the federal program.”

Work on the 2007 Farm Bill Rolling Along….In the Right Direction

The House Agriculture Committee is in its third day of debate on the 2007 Farm Bill. Amendments that would have stripped the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) of $84 million, and combined other key conservation programs were defeated or withdrawn, with the final package strengthening overall conservation funding. While not the full farm subsidy payment reforms that AFT has sought, the Committee voted to allow farmers the option of choosing a revenue-based payment option, or, payments under the current price-based system. AFT will continue to work with House leadership for more equitable, market oriented policies that meet the needs of farmers, ranchers and consumers. The committee votes on its proposal today, with the full House to vote before August recess.

Around the Country

Join us for fresh local foods from the Saratoga, New York, region as we celebrate  farmland protection and the farmers who make it all possible at AFT’s 8th Annual Celebration in Saratoga Springs on July 28th.

AFT is conducting a study [PDF] to find out if San Francisco, California, can feed its residents from farms within 100 miles of the Golden Gate Bridge.

In Connecticut, Governor M. Jodi Rell signed a bill that would provide $20 million over the next two years for the state’s Farmland Preservation Program.

Sit down in New Haven, Connecticut, with Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and an esteemed plenary to discuss why food should matter, both at home and in our political system.

A new report shows unprecedented development predicted for Maryland’s Eastern Shore by 2030.

New Hampshire finds a source of funding for the state’s land protection program, totaling $6 million annually over the next two years.

Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson is continuing to move forward with his efforts to promote the production of renewable energy from agricultural waste products.

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