Good News for Farmland Protection, Find Out: Can Local Food from Local Farms Feed the Northeast?, Take a Birds Eye View of Climate Change with Google's New Map and More

American Farmland Trust
American Farmland Trust

E-News October 23, 2009

Welcome to your October edition of E-news. Click Here to view a version of this E-newsletter on the web. Thank you to everyone who took part in the E-news survey last month. We recieved great feedback and are working to implement your great suggestions. In this issue, read about the potential for local farms to feed the northeast; zoom in from space to see how climate change might affect different parts of the world with Google Earth's new tool; and join us in celebrating a good year for federal conservation funds.  

New York

Save New York Farms

New York Dairy Cows 

The state of New York is at a pivotal time in its efforts to protect farmland and support the economic viability of New York’s farmers. Last year, the most state farmland protection projects were pending in New York’s history. Fifty-two towns were awarded over $1 million in grants to develop the first municipal agricultural and farmland protection plans in New York. Eleven counties became eligible for the first funding in New York to update aging agricultural and farmland protection plans. While this is the highest level of farmland protection activity that New York has ever seen, there are significant threats to state farmland protection funding and dairy farms across the state are suffering. We want to hear from you!  What are the most important things that New York should do to protect its farmland.

Join Us for a Screening of Fresh at NYC’s Lincoln Center on October 27th

Fresh the Movie 

Join American Farmland Trust and the Film Society of the Lincoln Center for a screening of Fresh, a provocative documentary on the present and future of food production. Fresh highlights new opportunities for farmers and our food system while encouraging debate and action. What should New York’s farm and food system look like? The screening will be followed by a discussion with director Ana Sophia Joanes, American Farmland Trust’s David Haight, Hudson Valley farmer Cheryl Rogowski, and Jacquie Berger of Just Food. Jen Small of American Farmland Trust and Flying Pigs Farm will moderate. Purchase tickets for a screening of Fresh on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 at 6:30 pm.

Family Preserves Madison County Farm 

Crist Family Farm 

On a chilly October morning Matthew and Juanita Critz welcomed community and state leaders to their Cazenovia farm, while the fields thronged with schoolchildren picking pumpkins. Cups of hot cider were lifted in celebration of the permanent protection of this farm with a grant for the purchase of development rights from New York’s Farmland Protection Program. “This is a positive for the local economy,” said Matthew Critz, who’s farm employs over 50 people and recently built a new barn. “We have immediately invested back into the community by buying local products from the hardware store, the lumberyard and equipment dealers.”

Family Preserves Madison County Farm 

 Crist Family Farm

On a chilly October morning, Matthew and Juanita Critz welcomed community and state leaders to their Cazenovia farm, while the fields thronged with schoolchildren picking pumpkins. Cups of hot cider were lifted in celebration of the permanent protection of this farm with a grant for the purchase of development rights from New York’s Farmland Protection Program. “This is a positive for the local economy,” said Matthew Critz, whose farm employs over 50 people and recently built a new barn. “We have immediately invested back into the community by buying local products from the hardware store, the lumberyard and equipment dealers.”


Massachusetts’ Community Preservation Act Needs a Boost 

Massachusetts Cabbage 

We recently joined legislators and other organizations to testify in support of changes to the Community Preservation Act, the Commonwealth’s program that supports community-level land protection, affordable housing and historic preservation efforts. The proposed legislation would ensure that participating communities receive at least 75 percent of what they raise locally in state matching funds. The Community Preservation Act has been a critical source of supplemental funding for farmland protection projects in Massachusetts by helping communities raise the money needed to protect more than 38 farmland parcels through the state’s Agricultural Preservation Restriction program.


Funding Won for Farmland Preservation

 Working Lands Alliance Logo

Thanks to efforts by Working Lands Alliance, a major recommitment of funding for the State Farmland Preservation Program was secured when Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams and Governor Jodi Rell agreed to restore bonding levels for the program to $10 million per year through FY 2011. This important move ensures the state’s continued commitment to farmland protection and will allow the state to continue to match increased federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program allocations to Connecticut.

Please Join Us at the Working Lands Alliance Annual Meeting and Luncheon

Please join us on Wednesday November 18 at noon in the Old Judiciary Room of the Capital in Hartford for our coalition’s annual meeting and luncheon featuring CT-Grown fare!  Two guest speakers—Peter Orr of Fort Hill Farms and Liz MacAlister of Cato Corner Farm—will highlight this year’s topic of Dairy Diversity.  Legislator and Pathfinder awards will also be presented.  Please RSVP to; $10 per person will be collected at the door.

Cheseapeake Bay

Tell the EPA to Make Change Work for Chesapeake Bay Farms


Help make sure plans to clean up the Chesapeake make sense for farmers. A new Chesapeake Bay cleanup strategy is being drafted, and everyone is facing tighter environmental regulations to meet the Bay agreements and the Clean Water Act. For farmers, however, cookie cutter approaches that ignore weather, soil and diverse farm operations could impact profits and lead to more farms being converted to development—a fate that even the EPA points out is a dead loss for the Bay. Get geared up for action! Help our region’s farms support a cleaner, healthier Chesapeake Bay.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Get the timeline for action
  2. Download talking points
  3. Tell the Federal Leadership Committee to adopt incentive programs for farmers, not enforcement measures.


New Farmer Program

The Maryland New Farmer Trainee Program is recruiting new farmer trainees for next year's program.  Résumé’s and references (four copies of each; for references list at least three names with contact info) may be sent to Maryland Ag Extension Office 1840 York Rd. Suite J Timonium, MD 21093 or questions may be directed to Cathy Tipper at by Oct 30th. 


Workshop Series Outlining Wisconsin’s New Farmland Protection Tools Continue

Dairy Cows Eating 

Farmers, town officials, planning commission members and other interested parties are invited to participate in one of six workshops focused on the new Working Lands Initiative. The workshops are scheduled for the last week of October and the first week of November. Topics to be covered include changes to the existing Farmland Preservation Program; purchase of agricultural conservation easements; agricultural enterprise areas; and the claiming farmland preservation tax credits. Workshops begin at 8:30 a.m. with registration and continue until 3 p.m., including a break for lunch which will be provided. Download the workshop schedule and details [PDF].


The Future of Agriculture and the Environment


The annual Focus on Farming Conference, “Growing Together,” is just around the corner and will be held at the Tulalip Resort in Marysville, WA on Thursday, November 5th. Come and hear American Farmland Trust’s Don Stuart speak about planning for water quality while preserving a vital agriculture industry; using conservation markets to protect the environment while strengthening agriculture; policy perspectives on the future of agriculture and the environment; and models for the future of agriculture and the environment.

Main Stories

Can Local Food from Local Farms Support Us?

 Fresh Food on the Urban Fringe

The availability of local food from Maine to Virginia will be investigated by an upcoming study. The study, to be conducted by the United States Agriculture Research Service, will attempt to answer the question: can local food from local farms support the region? “Understanding the ability for people to have access to food from regional sources will provide a poignant view of how critically important farmland surrounding our populated regions really is,” says Julia Freedgood, Managing Director of our Growing Local campaign. “We can expect that the results from this study will echo the reality that the majority of our fruits and vegetables are grown on urban fringe farmland, which is at the highest risk for development.”

A Fluid Timeframe for Clean Energy Legislation?

Farmer in Wheat Field 

The 2009 U.N. Conference on Climate Change is coming up in Denmark on December 7-18—a key meeting as countries struggle to address this global environmental issue that can have a significant impact on farms, farmland and opportunities for farmers. Next week the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on the Kerry-Boxer Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act with anticipated markup in early November. We look forward to working with Senate leadership, Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and the Agriculture Committee, and members of the Senate to strengthen the legislation so agriculture can play an important role in protecting and restoring our environment.

What Climate Change Might Look Like

 Earth in a Bed of Clover

Was your summer cooler than normal? Will rain fall on the plain in Spain? Record snowfall predicted for your region this winter? Explore Google Earth’s new mapping tool that shows expected temperature and precipitation under different climate scenarios by using data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The Numbers Are In, and Farmland Benefits

 Jon Scholl, American Farmland Trust's President

“The news on federal conservation funding this year is good,” says our President Jon Scholl, referring to Congress’s commitment of $1 billion in conservation funding, a full $40 million dollars more than was allocated in 2009. In terms of protecting working farm and ranch land, Congress was able to preserve critical funding for the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program at $150 million—the highest it has ever been. The news comes not a moment too soon. “State, county, local and private funds are strapped with requests from farmers who want to protect their farms. Waiting lists are growing,” said Scholl. In addition, the Conservation Loan Program, a program proposed by American Farmland Trust during the 2008 Farm Bill, locked in $150 million ensuring that it will boost national farmland protection and conservation efforts next year.

Around the Country

Two Michigan colleges are expanding their use of local food from area farms to save money and play a part in a local green economy.

Pennsylvania Senator Mike Brubaker spoke about the importance of protecting farmers and farmland while ensuring the success of restoring one of the nation’s most treasured waterways.

Find out more on farming issues and opportunities in and near urban centers at the Southwest Marketing Network Annual Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The first of a three part webinar series in New York is now posted online. The webinar, “Creating a Voice for Local Agriculture,” offers a view into creating and utilizing agriculture commissions to promote local farms.

Sign-up to see what the scientific community is saying about agriculture and the environment at the Science to Solutions workshop in Des Moines, Iowa.

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.

Wisconsin Farmers and landowners can now submit Agriculture Enterprise Area petitions due to the new Working Lands Initiative, signed into law earlier this year.

Register now to attend a day-long training in Asheville, North Carolina next month on the Transfer of Development Rights planning tool.

Take action to protect a farmland protection tool and make sure that the Easement Tax Incentive doesn’t expire!

October 24th is International Climate Action Day! Check out what is going on around the globe.

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