Our Post-Election Common Agenda, New Guide Helps Farmers Grow Green, and Reinventing Agricultural Conservation with Smart Growth

American Farmland Trust
American Farmland Trust

E-News November 10, 2010

Welcome to the November 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

Newly Elected Leaders Focus on Farmland Protection

New Tractor DriverOn the eve of the election that brought them victory, Governor-Elect Andrew Cuomo and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli both released major policy documents making a strong case for farmland protection. DiNapoli’s report Bet on the Farm: Farmland Protection as a Strategy for Economic Growth, and Cuomo’s policy platforms Farm NY: Growth Through Innovation and A Cleaner Greener New York all highlight the need for New York to do more to help families protect their land as a means of strengthening the state’s economy.

Upper Hudson Valley Farmland Protection Roundtable November 16th

New York Field and TractorA roundtable on municipal farmland protection planning is being hosted by American Farmland Trust in partnership with Columbia Land Conservancy and the State University of New York at Albany. Town officials from Columbia, Greene, Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Washington Counties are invited to attend. The roundtable will be held in the Standish Room of the Science Library at the State University of New York campus in Albany, from 10:00 to 2:00 on Tuesday, November 16th. A light lunch will be served. The event is free of charge. To register contact American Farmland Trust at (518) 581-0078 or newyork@farmland.org.

Sausage Making 101

FleishersA Pig to Pork butchery workshop was held last Sunday at Fleisher’s Grass-Fed and Organic Meats, a Kingston butcher shop that only works with farms and slaughterhouses within 50 miles of Kingston. Fleisher’s, owned by Joshua and Jessica Applestone, is on the crest of the wave of the new local foods economy sweeping the Hudson Valley. Marissa Guggiana, author of Primal Cuts was on hand as guest of honor. Food professionals and aficionados observed the humane slaughter of a pig at a family farm in New Paltz, watched a butchery demo and learned how to make sausage.

New England

You Are Invited to the Working Lands Alliance Annual Meeting & Luncheon

Litchfield Hills ConnecticutPlease join us on Wednesday November 17, 12:00 - 2:00 p.m., in the Old Judiciary Room of the State Capitol in Hartford for our coalition’s annual meeting and luncheon featuring CT-Grown fare! 2010 Farmland Preservation Pathfinder awards will also be presented to the town of Pomfret, Faith Middletown of WNPR, and the Woodbridge Conservation Commission & the Board of Directors of Massaro Community Farm. Please RSVP by sending an email to jmartin@farmland.org. Free entrance for WLA members, or $10 per person will be collected at the door.

Connecticut Agriculture Is a $3.5 Billion Industry

Economic Impacts Study CoverThe University of Connecticut’s new study—Economic Impacts of Connecticut's Agricultural Industry —estimates the total impact of Connecticut's agricultural industry has increased to $3.5 billion. The report also found that 20,000 jobs are directly connected to the agricultural industry statewide. Although the study was confined to traditional economic impacts, it recognizes the non-market social benefits and ecosystem services of the state's more than 400,000 acres of land in farms. American Farmland Trust's Connecticut State Director, Jiff Martin, says that the study "underscores AFT's position that supporting local farmers and preserving farmland makes sense for an industry of such robust economic importance to the state that simultaneously maintains the New England landscape and provides a variety of environmental benefits."

Mainers Approve Funding for Land Conservation

Blueberry Field in MaineWith 59 percent of the vote, Mainers approved a $9.75 million state bond for the Land for Maine's Future program. Of the spending,
$1 million is earmarked specifically for farmland protection projects.
 Notes Cris Coffin, American Farmland Trust's New England Director: "In a time of fiscal constraint, Mainers fortunately appreciate the critical role of working lands to their environment and economy, and the need to provide state
resources to leverage federal and local funding for farmland


Honoring Local Hero Secretary Russell Redding

Local Hero Award CeremonyAmerican Farmland Trust Honored Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding with the bi-annual Pennsylvania Farmland Preservation Local Heroes Award for his profound dedication to Pennsylvania’s farms and agricultural industry for more than 20 years. Secretary Redding played a crucial role in founding the Adams County Preservation board, which has successfully protected 139 farms and 18,260 acres in its 20-year history. Along with the PA Farmland Preservation Association, we salute Redding for his outstanding efforts in furthering the mission of PFPA and his lifelong dedication to protecting the farms, natural resources and waters of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


California Post Election Wrap-up

California Farm in the HillsOn November 2, California voters changed the landscape for agricultural conservation in the nation’s leading farm state. Governor-elect Jerry Brown and Lieutenant Governor-elect Gavin Newsom are both strong supporters of land use policies that conserve land and encourage regional food production. As state attorney general, Brown has used the California Environmental Quality Act to encourage local governments to embrace more efficient development to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which has the additional benefit of reducing farmland conversion.

As mayor of San Francisco, Newsom took a cue from an American Farmland Trust study of the regional foodshed to convene an urban-rural roundtable that recommended strategies for increasing local food production and conserving the Bay Area’s farmland.

Another vote that will help conserve farmland was the defeat of Proposition 23, which would have shelved California’s landmark climate legislation. So, the state remains committed to reducing greenhouse gases—and farmland loss—through the kind of measures Governor-elect Brown has championed. In the coming months, we hope to work with the governor-elect’s transition team to assure that California agriculture’s interests and concerns receive a high priority amidst a very challenging set of problems inherited by the new administration.

— Ed Thompson
California Director and Senior Associate
American Farmland Trust

 Main Stories

Let’s Focus on Our Common Agenda

Family in a Wheat FieldWhile the results of this election changed the make-up of Congress, what hasn’t changed is a number of serious challenges facing U.S. agriculture, from the need to address the loss of farmland, and the overall health of our working lands and water, to keeping our farms economically viable. We face all of these issues at a time when our federal budget is under considerable strain. One of the biggest opportunities to address these issues is coming up almost immediately—the 2012 Farm Bill. Our president Jon Scholl shares American Farmland Trust's common agenda and plans to continue to work for federal policy solutions.

Arrow We want to hear from you! Please take a moment to complete our Agenda 2011 Leadership Poll.

New Guide Helps Farmers and Ranchers Grow Green

New Guide to Environmental Markets

Often considered a new idea with puzzling details, markets for environmental benefits have been operating in the United States for many years. However, recent developments have increased their potential as sources of on-farm income. This is big news since most active farms and ranches are already preserving and generating environmental benefits. Now, with environmental markets, it is possible to buy and sell these benefits in the form of credits generated from such environmental activities as restoring wetlands, improving water quality or storing carbon. Our new guide helps farmers and ranchers take advantage of new environmental markets while providing an array of benefits for their communities.

Can a Smart Growth Approach Help Reinvent Agricultural Conservation?

California CropsAs we grapple with issues surrounding farms and food—including disappearing farms, the connection between farming practices and clean water and air, and the need to grow more fruits and vegetables for healthier diets—innovative strategies are emerging in the very states that top the list for farmland loss. Our California office is applying a smart growth lens to agricultural conservation and working on three fronts: farmland protection, regional food systems and environmental stewardship. A “Citrus Grove of the Future” envisions designing every acre of agricultural land producing citrus fruit in Florida to not only grow food, but also to provide affordable benefits for the environment and nearby residents.

A Traveling CSA on Wheels

Photo Credit: Jurrien SwartsHow can urban residents access fresh, healthy food? For cousins Seth Holton and Jurrien Swarts of Holton Farms, the answer lies in bringing the food to the people. Their Farm Truck, a CSA on wheels, delivers food shares to members throughout New York City’s five boroughs and also serves any passerby shopping for delicious produce. The program is helping to reach low-income residents while also supporting the future of their eighth-generation Vermont farm. Learn more about Holton Farm’s unique model.

Special Opportunity to Support American Farmland Trust

You know that every message sent to congress, every trip to the farmers market, and every dollar donated to saving our farms makes a difference. If you have a PayPal account, please consider donating, because through Friday we have a special window of opportunity to make every dollar go twice as far. Between now and Friday, PayPal will match every gift made through our secure PayPal donation form dollar-for-dollar, up to $5,000!

Around the Country

The University of Connecticut’s new study—Economic Impacts of Connecticut's Agricultural Industry —estimates the total impact of Connecticut's agricultural industry has increased to $3.5 billion.

Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding was honored with the bi-annual Pennsylvania Farmland Preservation Local Heroes Award for his profound dedication to Pennsylvanians for more than 20 years.

The New Entry Farmer-to-Farmer Conference held in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, will help small-scale farmers learn from their peers. Topics covered include soil fertility, farm business and financial planning, strategies for ensuring the health of livestock and building sustainable communities around food.

In Wisconsin, the 2011 Request for Agricultural Enterprise Area Petitions is now open. Petitions are due by February 18th, 2011.

Your community could receive an orchard from the Communities Take Root program put on by the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation. Through this exciting program, communities compete in a nation-wide vote to win a complete community orchard. Check out 2010 winners to learn who should apply.

Local radio listeners in western North Carolina helped raise $50,000 for a farmland preservation fund.

Farmland owners have the opportunity to learn how to apply for Clean Ohio Agricultural Easement Purchase Program funds during upcoming information sessions offered by the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Estate taxes are one of the primary causes of fragmentation and loss of agricultural lands and native wildlife habitats in Texas. Get informed.

We are hosting six evening workshops across Washington to explain how farmers can use environmental markets—either as a way to earn extra income or as a new source of funding for land stewardship projects.
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