American Farmland Trust

E-News January 4, 2008
Happy New Year from all of us at American Farmland Trust! Below is the January edition of our monthly E-news, featuring the latest on farm and ranch land protection, environmentally and economically sustainable agriculture, planning for agriculture, local food and more.

Farm and Ranch Land Protection: Landowners and the Public Benefit with State Conservation Tax Credits

Colorado farm on water's edgeAn income tax credit for landowners who voluntarily preserve their land through the donation of a conservation agreement can be an effective tool to promote farm and ranch land protection. Landowners receive a financial reward for protecting their land, states advance land conservation through tax policy rather than expenditures, and the public reaps the benefit of lands protected at a fraction of their cost. State Conservation Tax Credits: Impact and Analysis provides an overview of existing programs and guidance for drafting new ones—in addition to highlighting elements that may spur greater farmer and rancher participation, such as provisions to allow the transfer of credits in Virginia, Colorado and South Carolina.

The Farm Bill Provides Moo-lah for Methane Digesters

Cows feedingThe Brubaker family in Mt. Joy, Pennsylvania, made a big investment this year—adding a methane digester to their protected 600-cow dairy. To stay environmentally friendly and profitable, the Brubakers invested in this big-ticket technology that turns large quantities of cow manure—a potential environmental problem—into green electricity and fertilizer. A combination of state and federal programs, including the Pennsylvania Resource Enhancement and Protection state tax credit and the federal Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), helped finance the innovation. As the final farm bill is reconciled in the Conference Committee, AFT will continue to work to secure additional funding for programs like EQIP.

Farmers Reduce Erosion and Fight Climate Change with AFT’s BMP Challenge

AFT's Brian Brandt, BMP ChallengeAFT’s Best Management Practices (BMP) Challenge gives farmers a way to reduce fertilizer rates on their fields—and implement conservation tillage to help reduce soil erosion and fight climate change—without worrying about a loss to their income. Farmers participating in the BMP Challenge have, on average, been able to maintain or improve their profits when applying 23-percent less nitrogen fertilizer on their fields. Farmers in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington who grow corn for grain and silage are eligible for the program. Learn more and find out how you can enroll in or support the challenge.

New Year’s Resolutions for Supporters of Local Agriculture

AFT Staff 2008 New Year's ResolutionsIn the coming year, there are many opportunities for you to help foster a vibrant farm economy and save farmland! Here is list of New Year’s resolutions for anyone who wants to support local farmers and farmland—from new converts to the cause of local foods to seasoned advocates of farming and ranch land protection. When it comes to supporting local farms, each individual can make a real difference. Watch some AFT staff member's resolutions for the New Year (mp4) and resolve to turn over some new leaves for yourself in 2008—like trying a new variety of fresh leafy greens from your own garden or a local grower.

Around the Country

AFT’s Southeast office moved to Hillsborough, North Carolina.

A newly adopted agricultural element to the Stanislaus, California general plan requires developers to preserve an acre of farmland for every acre developed.

Towns in Maine now have the authority to offer property tax relief to farmers in exchange for 30-year term easements. Another new Maine bill establishes a conservation easement registry.

In Michigan, the state Attorney General determined that a Kalamazoo County road commission can not use eminent domain to acquire farmland protected by the state.

American Farmland Trust's Pacific Northwest office is engaging landowners to explore one of the strongest tools on the horizon for environmental mitigation, Ecosystem Services Markets.

Approximately $35 million in funding in New York through the Agricultural and Farmland Protection Program to protect nearly 13,300 acres of active farmland across the state was announced.



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