Welcome to our March edition of E-news, featuring the latest on farm and ranch land protection, environmentally and economically sustainable agriculture, planning for agriculture, local foods and more.
“Starting with the field and moving toward the fork” may be the best approach to fostering a strong community food system that sustains local agriculture—particularly in development threatened communities where farmers face tough challenges. In
Burlington County, New Jersey, American Farmland Trust is working with the Office of Farmland Preservation to identify partners, organize public input and research ordinances and regulations to see which thwart or support a local food system. Project goals include improving policies to support local farms, drafting a county right-to-farm law and finding ways to increase accessibility of local food to the entire population.
Survey Studies Viability for Farms on the Urban Edge
When farmers and ranchers place agricultural conservation easements on their property, they are saying no to development. They still retain ownership of the land, but donate or sell the easement in exchange for the right to permanently prevent the development of their property. While 27 states have enacted purchase of agricultural conservation easement programs, including Texas, Texas is one of six states that hasn’t funded their program. Fortunately, the recently formed Texas Agricultural Land Trust (TALT) has begun working with ranchers to protect valuable properties in the state. Thanks to their work, agricultural landowners now can count on a dedicated, private land trust to help combat the serious loss of Texas farm and ranch land.
March 15th Farm Bill Deadline Likely to Be Missed
After halting starts and stops, the House and Senate appear to be working together, agreeing last week to $10 billion in additional funding for a 10-year farm bill—but finding that funding is still in question. The White House supports $10 billion in spending only if certain reforms and offsets are included, as detailed in their "parameters of a successful farm bill." Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) says the offsets "are pretty problematic.” Since meeting the March 15th deadline is unlikely, lawmakers now are looking for another one-month extension to finalize details.