American Farmland Trust

E-News November 12, 2009

Welcome to your November edition of E-news. Can't wait until next month's E-news to hear more about farms, food, and the environment? Be sure to check out our new Farmland Report blog where we will be posting regular updates about our work across the country and in the nation's capital.  

New York

The Legislature Is Back in Town

Upstate New York Farm
Prior to this week’s special session, the state senate proposed an alternative to the Governor’s deficit reduction plan that does not cut the Environmental Protection Fund. As debate over budget cuts rages we stress the importance of farmland protection to the economy and the environment. Our recent public hearing testimony and commentaries in two major newspapers, the Albany Times Union and Buffalo News, underscore why the Environmental Protection Fund is critical to protecting New York’s air, water and land including the farmland needed for our food supply.

Meanwhile, fresh ideas and alliances emerged during our Farmland Policy Summit, which brought together more than 60 representatives from land trusts, local governments and environmental groups.

Tune in for Our Next New York Webinar

New York Apples
The November 19th webinar, "Funding Opportunities for Agricultural Economic Development," will help grow your understanding of agricultural economic development approaches used across the state and ideas about what might work in your region. We’ll review examples of current programs, explore possible funding opportunities and discuss how partnerships can create successful agriculture economic development opportunities. Sign up today!

Do Dairy Farms Matter?

Dairy Farmer with Holstein
Jefferson County is teaching people how important dairy farms are to communities. Dairy farmers produce local food, protect the environment and maintain the rural landscape, and dairy farm acreage represents 55 percent of the Northeast’s farmland. Yet this land is at risk as dairy farmers are struggling with milk prices stuck at only half of production costs. We’ve worked closely with Jefferson County to make farmland protection a priority and the County continues to be a state leader in supporting our dairy farmers.

New England

Survey Explores Landowner Attitudes About MA Agricultural Preservation Restriction Program

Lettuce in Massachusetts
To help determine what land is and is not being protected through the Massachusetts Agricultural Preservation Restriction program, we teamed up with the Massachusetts Farm Bureau to survey Farm Bureau members. More than 90% of the respondents had not applied for the program in the past five years. Land ineligibility; concern over program changes or possible constraints on the land once enrolled; and a sense that the program is unable to pay what the restriction is worth were among the top reasons farmers shied away from the farmland preservation program. These and other research findings will be presented to the state Agricultural Lands Preservation Committee in late November.


Top Chefs Prepare Lunch for Farmland Preservation Advocates

Chef Tim Cipriano the
Our voice of farmland preservation in Connecticut, the Working Lands Alliance, welcomes supporters to the 9th Annual Meeting and Luncheon on November 18th, 12:00 - 1:45 p.m., at the State Capitol. The luncheon will feature a seasonal bisque prepared by Chef Kevin Cottle (runner-up on the tv-reality show, Hell's Kitchen) and a roasted vegetable and pesto dish made with herbs grown by The Sound School students and prepared by Chef Tim Cipriano aka the 'Local Food Dude (in image on the right) of New Haven Public Schools Food Service.  Dessert using locally grown apples and milk will be prepared by the Local Routes team at University of Connecticut.  Please RSVP to; $10 per person will be collected at the door.

Chesapeake Bay

Get the Down Low on TMDL: Your Total Maximum Daily Load of Water Quality Terminology

Boy and Girl in the Chesapeake Bay
Small acronyms can have a big impact on a whole lot of people. Consider some especially famous ones: NASDQ, NYPD, and for the text message savvy out there: LOL. Another one of these innocuous little abbreviations is about to change the lives of pretty much everyone in the Chesapeake Bay—and that is TMDL. Fear not, we have made a primer for you that will give you the down low on TMDLs or Total Maximum Daily Loads. The EPA is working out the details right now about how TMDLs are going to impact YOU! Learn what this four letter abbreviation will mean for you, your cat, your streets, your public parks and farmers in your community.


Gov. Elect McDonnell Pledges to Conserve Virginia’s Open Spaces

Virginia Farm with Fall Leaves
On Earth Day 2009, then-candidate for Virginia governor, Bob McDonnell, echoed the incumbent Tim Kaine’s commitment to land conservation by making a campaign pledge to preserve 400,000 acres of Virginia’s open spaces with a focus on farmland. Elsewhere he has mentioned working with the agricultural community to develop programs to promote environmentally sound farming practices. We welcome Governor-Elect McDonnell’s early commitment to farms and farmland and look forward to working with his administration to help him carry out these vital efforts to protect Virginia’s farmland and environment.

Main Stories

Take a Tip from California: Setting Climate-Land Use Targets Includes Saving Farmland

California Traffic
A state advisory committee has recommended a process for translating California’s greenhouse gas reduction goal (achieving 1990 levels by 2020) into local targets for curbing sprawl. Unless local governments change development patterns and encourage more walkable, transit-oriented communities, vehicle miles traveled in California could increase 70% by 2030, canceling out the benefits of improved fuel economy and low-carbon fuels. We are part of a consortium of nonprofit organizations called Climate Plan that is pushing for aggressive state and local action to stop sprawl, prevent a climate disaster and, in the process, save farmland.

Taking the Local Food Pledge from Your Home to the Market and Beyond

As of today, pledged to spend more than $1,700,000 dollars per year in support of local food from local farms. If you haven't taken the pledge, act now to show your support for farms in your area. We can do even more for local farms by taking action as consumers and telling all the places we purchase foodrestaurants, grocery stores, hospitals and schoolsthat we want to see more local foods stocked in the shelves. Download this printable set of consumer action cards to get food merchants in your community to take a pledge of their own.

In 2009 America Votes YES for Farmland

Vote Yes for Issue 3
After last Tuesday, nothing is clearer than the fact that a tough economy is no match for land protection advocates! Sixty-four percent of the 26 land conservation ballot measures across the country passed, bringing more good news on the heels of the record funding for the Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program released last month in the Agriculture Appropriations Bill. The showpiece among these measures was the New Jersey “Green Acres” bond offering $400 million for farmland protection and other land conservation efforts designed to ward-off urban sprawl.

New Study Touts Benefits of Clean Energy Legislation for Agriculture

25x25 Report on Climate Change Legislation Cover
A new study released this week by 25x’25 and the University of Tennessee is the latest of several studies that indicates net economic benefits to agriculture through clean energy legislationin this case, up to $13 billion per year in new profits. To create these benefits, legislation must enact a well constructed cap-and-trade program that allows land-owners to receive credit for reducing carbon and capturing it in the soil. The study also finds that EPA regulation prescribed by the Supreme Court if Congress does not act will result in net losses across the agriculture industry.

Around the Country

California continues to work on Ag Vision, a road map for the future of agriculture

From processing free-range chickens to understanding the importance of farmland protection, New York City food professionals learned a lot this fall at Farm Camp.

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments recently launched, a new Web site aimed at promoting and protecting local agriculture surronding the metropolitan Washington, DC region

New study in Michigan highlights the strengths of their agriculture economy

The New Partners for Smart Growth conference will be held in one of the nation’s greenest cities this year! So book your ticket to Seattle, Washington and register now for the conference.

The University of Maryland Extension and the Delaware Cooperative Extension are offering farm management classes for women at nine sites in Maryland and Delaware.

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