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Welcome to the July 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? Check out our Farmland Report blog.

LATEST IN YOUR STATE

Maryland

New Video: The Benefits of Conservation Practices on Farms

butterfly-water-drop.jpgWhat is nutrient trading and why is it important for a healthy future? To help answer these questions, we teamed up with the Maryland Department of Agriculture and talked with farmers and experts about nutrient trading in the state and its possible impact on the Chesapeake Bay. The video will be used as a new tool to assist the state's roll-out of a program that has the potential to bring new revenue sources to farmers and lower the cost of pollution reduction for all citizens of Maryland.

Working to Protect Farmland and Improve Water Quality

Maryland-Farm-in-Spring-Dro.jpgOur Mid-Atlantic Director, Jim Baird, recently spent time discussing the relationship between farmland protection and water quality with members of the Baltimore County Farmland Preservation Board, farmers and other citizens, and local conservation organizations. Baird presented on how working lands protection and land use planning go hand in hand to produce better water quality outcomes. The question has arisen in the context of the federal strategy mandated by President Obama’s executive order to clean up the bay.

New England

Connecticut Town Planner Receives National Award for Supporting Farms and Food

CT-Drop.jpgLebanon Town Planner Philip Chester has been awarded the title of 2011 Outstanding Small Town and Rural Planner by the American Planning Association (APA). Chester, who served on our Advisory Committee for Planning for Agriculture: A Guide for Connecticut Municipalities, has helped Lebanon protect more than 1,000 acres of local farmland; dedicated annual funding to farmland preservation; implemented cluster zoning regulations and agricultural buffers for new subdivisions; enacted a right-to-farm ordinance; and initiated a thriving farmers market. “Too often municipal leaders focus on developing land versus preserving agriculture. Both have their pluses, but only agriculture provides sustainable value in terms of the environment, municipal finance, aesthetics and food security, which can be appreciated by everyone,” said Chester.


Rhode Island
Begins to Implement Strategic Plan for Agriculture

RI-Drop.jpgBefore lawmakers adjourned for the year, the Rhode Island General Assembly took the first steps to implement A Vision for Rhode Island Agriculture: Five Year Strategic PlanHouse Resolution 6287 directs the state’s Department of Environmental Management to work with other governmental and non-governmental entities to review current laws and policy innovations from other states. They will then develop a suite of policy recommendations that expand Rhode Island food production and agricultural operations. House Bill 5707, approved by the state legislature and awaiting final approval by the governor, addresses an issue identified in the Strategic Plan—limits on agriculture imposed by local zoning ordinances—by allowing plant agriculture in all zones by right. 

 
Maine Farmland Trust Offers Conservation Grants

ME-Drop.jpgMaine Farmland Trust is pleased to announce that Conservation Transaction Grants of up to $10,000 are available through a 2011 Farmland Conservation Grant Program. Grants will support projects that will permanently protect active farmland in Maine through conservation easements (donated and purchased) and fee acquisition. Land trusts operating in the state of Maine that meet all eligibility requirements are encouraged to apply. Proposals are accepted on a rolling deadline, and Maine Farmland Trust reviews proposals at the close of every other month.

New York
2011 Legislative Session Wraps Up

Rev_Moss_and_helper-drop-sh.jpgThe New York State legislature has gone home for the summer. Two bills benefiting agriculture and farmland protection have passed. Assembly Bill 5663/Senate Bill 4056 expands public awareness of the state Environmental Protection Fund, which provides money for New York’s Farmland Protection Program. It passed both legislative houses. Assembly Bill 1389A/Senate Bill 614-B, which authorizes and encourages the financing of farm product transportation and distribution projects to help both urban communities and the state’s farm economy, also passed. Both of these bills now go to Governor Cuomo for approval. Please contact the governor and let him know of your support for these two pieces of legislation.

Top Five Farmers Markets in the Running in New York State

Our annual America’s Favorite Farmers MarketsTM contest is heating up and New York market-goers are showing their pride by voting for their favorite markets. At press time, New York’s top five markets in the running are:

Top-Five-NY-Farmers-Markets.jpgSaratoga Farmers Market
The Farmers Market at the Williamsville Mill
Ithaca Farmers Market
Pleasantville Farmers Market 
South Wedge Farmers Market 


Last year, the City of Rochester Public Market won first place for large sized markets and the Saratoga Farmers Market came in third place for medium sized markets. Thanks for your participation and best of luck to all the contenders!

Tour De Farm Bike-a-Thon to Benefit Farmland Conservation

Tour-De-Farm-Drop.jpgThe Tour de Farm Bike-a-Thon, to be held on Sunday, July 17, is a fun, healthy and educational bike ride organized by the Agricultural Stewardship Association and Saratoga PLAN to raise funds for land conservation while celebrating farms in the upper Hudson Valley. Tour de Farm brings cyclists through more than 5,000 acres of scenic protected farmland in the region surrounding the Saratoga National Historical Park, featuring spectacular agricultural landscapes relatively unchanged since the 1777 Battle of Saratoga.

Pacific Northwest

Looking Ahead at Environmental Markets for Farms

Pacific-Northwest-Drop.jpgTwenty leaders from Northwest nonprofits met on the Hood Canal at a workshop we sponsored on environmental markets in mid-June. The workshop was very successful at building a common strategy for coordinating work on market development. Moving forward, small groups will continue to meet on market opportunities in the 2012 Farm Bill; transferable tools for credit valuation; and engagement of Washington regulators in market approval. As we continue to work on farmer-friendly approaches to environmental markets, this collaboration will help us move markets forward in the Northwest.

NATIONAL IMPACT

Calling on Congress to Preserve Conservation Funding

capitol-drop.jpgIn the past month, many of you have shared with us why conservation matters. It is a point that has been missed by the House as they disproportionately cut funding to conservation programs in their 2012 budget proposal. On June 28,  thousands of citizens reached out to the Senate and collectively voiced their concerns that funding for conservation programs is necessary to ensure a healthy future for us all. But the work is far from over. Stay tuned through updates on the Farmland Report blog  and consider visiting your Senators in their home offices during the August recess. 

Can Individual Citizens Help to Protect Farmland?

waupaca-2.jpgEach and every day, individuals take action and share in our vision of saving the land that sustains us. From joining the local planning board to calling on state and national elected officials to making conscientious shopping choices, efforts to protect farmland add up to make a broader impact. The positive results of working toward the common goal of healthy farm and ranch land were recently seen in Wisconsin where a public outcry kept the governor from passing his proposed elimination of farmland protection programs in the state.

State-By-State Leaders Announced in America’s Favorite Farmers MarketsTM Contest

AFFM-Drop.jpgWill your market make it to the top of the list in the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets TM contest? From now until the end of the contest, you can see real-time updates of state-by-state leaders. At the end of the contest, the top farmers market in every state will receive a package of special bumper stickers from Websticker.com to promote their market. The contest continues through August 31 so there is still plenty of time to vote and support your favorite market.

Supply and Demand in the Local Food Chain

Julia-Drop.jpgConsumer interest in local food is on the rise, bringing along with it the opportunity to grow local farm economies. However, in many parts of the country, farmers who sell directly to consumers are facing various challenges in order to meet the increasing demand. Looking at recent studies, our Managing Director for Farmland and Communities, Julia Freedgood, explains how farmer-to-consumer sales—one of the fastest growing sectors of the food economy—may hold the key to keeping farmland in farming.

AROUND THE COUNTRY

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton declared July 16th as Sustainable Agriculture Day in the state to highlight farming practices that are environmentally friendly, economically viable and socially sustainable.

With the passing of House Bill 168 in North Carolina, land used for “bona fide farming purposes,” as defined by the state law, is now protected from cities, townships, and villages spreading out and developing on the agricultural land.

The recently released 2009-2010 Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin Impact Report highlights an increased awareness in local products and the increased use of local agricultural goods in restaurants and stores.

A Connecticut town planner who helped protect local farmland; dedicated annual funding to farmland preservation; implemented cluster zoning regulations and agricultural buffers for new subdivisions; enacted a right-to-farm ordinance; and initiated a thriving farmers market has been awarded the title of 2011 Outstanding Small Town and Rural Planner by the American Planning Association.

In Erie County, New York, we are helping with the update to the farmland protection plan. Unique in this most recent planning process is the inclusion of the city of Buffalo in discussions surrounding opportunities for new farms and markets.
In Illinoisgrocery stores only carry about 0.2 percent of the food that is grown in-state. Local Food Farms and Jobs, a task force based in the capital of Springfield, is trying to increase the amount of food produced and consumed in-state to 20 percent by 2020. 

The Farm & Food Leadership Conference will be held September 12 to 13 in San Antonio, Texas, and will focus on creating a better understanding of where our food comes from.

Launched in 2010, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources now has 20 farms certified in the Commonwealth Quality seal program, signifying that they are high-quality products produced and processed in the state.

A pair of celebrity chefs from South Carolina, the Lee Brothers, has teamed up with the state’s department of agriculture in a contest to win a locally sourced meal cooked up by the duo. 

The California Roundtable on Water and Food Supply has released recommendations on the environment, including water needs on farms. The recommendations cover ways to increase knowledge of water maintenance and improve support for farmers and ranchers.

The North Dakota Department of Agriculture released a guidebook of food grown and produced in the state.

The Grassland Reserve Program, a farm bill initiative aimed at protecting water resources and expanding wildlife habitat, was the topic of a recent informational webinar co-hosted by the Farmland Information Center and the Partnership of Rangeland Trusts.