76 Trombones and Carbon Farming, New Data Shows Farmland Losses and More

American Farmland Trust
American Farmland Trust

E-News May 20, 2010

Welcome to the May issue of E-news. Click here to view a version of E-news on the web. Can't wait until next month's E-news to hear more about farms, food, and the environment? Check out our Farmland Report blog where we post regular updates about our work across the country and in the nation's capital.

New York

Land Trust Bill on Governor’s Desk

NY CapitalThe New York State Assembly and Senate have approved a bill amendment, supported by American Farmland Trust, that shortens the time needed to complete state-funded farmland protection projects by making land trusts eligible to apply directly to New York State’s Farmland Protection Program. The bill now awaits Governor Paterson’s signature.

In the meantime, budget negotiations remain stalled. Funding for the Environmental Protection Fund, Farmland Protection Program and other critical farm and food programs hang in the balance. And, some at the Capitol are even predicting we may not have a budget before November’s elections. Friends of New York’s Environment is organizing a lobby day on May 25th. Register today.

Stewart’s Milk Carton Message Supports Farms

Stewards Milk TruckStewart’s Shops, a family- and employee-owned business with 327 convenience stores in upstate New York and Vermont, is calling on milk drinkers to support local farms with an illustrated message panel on the side of its milk cartons. A collaboration between Stewart’s, American Farmland Trust, Agricultural Stewardship Association and Saratoga PLAN, the milk carton message urges consumers to support local farms and directs them to information about local agriculture and farmland protection along with contact information for land trusts working to protect farmland across upstate New York and Vermont.

Western New York Roundtable—June 15th, 2010

Alisia Vilonen Ben Brook Farm Erie Cty credit Frederick-Vilonen.We are hosting a roundtable meeting in Western New York to discuss municipal agricultural and farmland protection plans and town support for agriculture. Town officials, planners and others involved in local land use planning will share strategies for developing farmland protection plans along with questions and concerns. The roundtable will be held at the Genesee Community College in Batavia, on Tuesday, June 15th from 11:00 am to 2:30 pm. To register, contact us at (518) 581-0078 or newyork@farmland.org.


Farms, Food, and Jobs Bill Passes Unanimously in Connecticut General Assembly

Connecticut Dairyman Robin ChesmerThanks to support from members of the Working Lands Alliance coalition, including American Farmland Trust, a bill offering new market opportunities for Connecticut farmers recently passed the legislature with overwhelming support. The Farms, Food, and Jobs bill (now Public Act 10-103) allows on-farm production of acidified foods such as pickles, tomato sauce and salsa and their sale at farm stands and farmers markets; allows turkey and poultry producers to process their birds and sell directly to consumers and restaurants; and authorizes funding for marketing Connecticut-grown dairy products. The bill is now on the governor's desk.

New England

Initiatives in Vermont and New Hampshire Look to Value and Strengthen Local Farms

Initiatives underway in Vermont and New Hampshire are quantifying the economic impact of their states' farm and food sectors and identifying opportunities for future growth. Vermont's Farm to Plate initiative has drafted "20 Big Goals for 2020" based on months of public input and data collection; the 10-year strategic plan will be finalized by the end of the year. Home Grown, a soon to be released report from the University of New Hampshire, estimates the economic impact from NH's local food system and explores how an expansion of the system could spur job creation and economic growth.


Tour de Farms Bike Event Helps Train New Farmers

Bicycle with Basket of Local Food

It’s time to tune up your bicycle for the Tour de Farms bike event on Saturday, June 12, 2010 in Northern Baltimore County. Whether you are a racer, hobby peddler or family sporting tricycles, training wheels and baby seats, you can enjoy a scenic ride through Maryland’s beautiful farm county. Stop along the way for a snack of fresh locally grown food or, if you can, pause at a vineyard to sample some local wine. All of the proceeds from the Tour de Farms event will support the New Farmer Trainee program helping a new generation of farmers secure the future of farms and food in Maryland.

Transmission Lines Rerouted: Is Farmland Near You Threatened?

PowerlinesAs the Community & Environmental Defense Services notes, the good news is that the MAPP transmission lines will not be "cutting through the heart of areas essential to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad historic parks, highly productive farm and forest lands, and numerous other sensitive areas." However, more scrutiny is going to be needed on how the new route for the lines will have an impact on the Chesapeake Bay and on farmland that is now in the transmission lines’ path. Click this map to see if there is threatened farmland in your area.


St. Lucie County, Florida, Releases New Toolbox to Support Local Agriculture

St. Lucie County Western Lands StudyUnderway since 2009, planners and St. Lucie County residents have tackled a monumental effort to address economic development opportunities and land use issues affecting agriculture in the county. The goal of the Western Lands Study “…is to develop a sustainable plan for the County's western lands that will preserve a functioning network of agriculture, open space, and natural areas while providing economically viable options for agricultural landowners, now and in the future.” The premise for the study stems from St. Lucie County’s commitment to smart growth and the acknowledgement of the contribution of agriculture, open space, and natural areas to regional sustainability. In support of the initiative, the recently released report, The St. Lucie County Western Lands Study: Options and Opportunities for the Future, provides a comprehensive collection of programs, techniques and options to support land use and economic opportunities for agriculture.

 Main Stories

76 Trombones and Carbon Farming on Parade

St. OlafsBased in rural Minnesota, the St. Olaf’s marching band doesn’t have 76 trombones, but they do have 100 musicians and a lot of gear when they go out on parade. Members of the marching band have gone the extra mile to be environmentally friendly through an initiative they call StoCarb (St. Olaf Carbon Offsets: Paying for Our Carbon Sins). They calculate the carbon footprint of their concert tours and have contracted with local farmers, paying them to offset the emissions with healthy farming practices that capture carbon and preserve the land.

Losing Farmland, State by State

Sprawl Converting Farmland into SubdivisionsUpdated information on farmland loss during the last 25 years is in—with Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey and Massachusetts topping the list of states losing the greatest percentage of prime farmland. The 1.5 million acres no longer in farming or ranching in the Lone Star state has Texas leading for sheer loss of acres, followed by Ohio, North Carolina, California and Georgia. “These findings and others from the 2007 National Resources Inventory (NRI) serve as a stark reminder that our nation’s agricultural land base—and the benefits it supplies—is threatened by poorly planned development,” said our president Jon Scholl. Farm and food advocates in at least one of these "biggest loser" states are calling for action, with the North Carolina Sustainable Local Food Advisory Council urging legislators to provide $5 million in funding to support farmland preservation.

Send a Lucky Blogger “Barnstorming”

Stonyfield Barnstorming Blog TourStonyfield (as in Stonyfield yogurt) is hosting a “Barnstorming” blog contest to bring talented bloggers on a tour of the organic dairies that supply Stonyfield with milk for their yogurt. In addition to the tour, the winners will award $5,000 to the charity of their choice. The author of “On a Lobster Placemat” chose American Farmland Trust! Read the essays and if you like what you see, vote for “On a Lobster Placemat!”

 Around the Country

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is set to celebrate an unprecedented milestone: the preservation of four thousand Pennsylvania farms.

The city of Baltimore, Maryland, hires the first-ever Food Policy Director to be housed by the city’s planning department.

St. Lucie County, Florida, released a new toolbox to support local agriculture. The recently report, The St. Lucie County Western Lands Study: Options and Opportunities for the Future, provides a comprehensive collection of programs, techniques and options to support land use and economic opportunities for agriculture.

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission recently released a Local Food Assessment and Plan for Central Ohio with the subtitle, “A strategy for strengthening the economy, ensuring access to healthful food, reducing food-shipping distance, and preserving farmland.”

The state of New York has a new tool called the New York Agricultural Landowner Guide that will help the state’s farmers find access to programs and financing that keep them doing their good work.

Once again an independent study shows that a large segment of U.S. farmers and rural Americans can benefit significantly from properly structured clean energy legislation. However, farmers must engage in the legislative process to benefit. Informa Economics conducted the study for American Farmland Trust and the National Association of Wheat Growers.

Burlington County, New Jersey, saves seven farms in one fell swoop.

USDA has extended the deadline for farmers market managers to submit their market to the 2010 Farmers Market Directory. Make sure your market is included by June 4

The North Carolina Sustainable Local Food Advisory Council is calling on legislators to put $5 million in the state budget for the trust fund that supports farmland preservation.

Where in the world is the passage of clean energy legislation? The new Kerry/Lieberman proposal from the Senate was released recently and incorporates most of the support for agriculture found in last year’s Clean Energy Partnerships Act of 2009 from Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) and Max Baucus (D., Mont.).

Wherever you are from you should consider heading to the “Gateway to the West” in St. Louis, Missouri, for the 2010 Soil and Water Conservation Society Annual Conference. Register soon because early bird rates end June 2nd.
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