Protecting Conservation Funding in the Federal Budget and the Economic Opportunities of Local Food


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Welcome to the October 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.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN NEW ENGLAND

Maine Guide Offers Tools to Communities and Farm Advocates

Maine-hayfield.jpgA new guide produced by American Farmland Trust, Maine Farmland Trust and the Mainewatch Institute offers communities practical ways to support local farms and keep farmland in farming. Cultivating Maine Agricultural Future gives specific examples and suggestions of what local officials and residents can do to protect farmland and make their towns more farm-friendly. “Residents and local officials alike want to see farms in their communities thrive,” says Cris Coffin, our New England Director. “But they don’t always know what it takes to make that happen. This guide provides the details and direction they need.” Please contact Peggy McCabe in our New England Office at pmccabe@farmland.org for a printed copy of the guide.

Looking for Land Trusts Engaged in Farmland Protection!

Connecticut-barn-in-fall.jpgAre you a land trust protecting farmland within a 100-mile radius of Boston or New York City? If so, the Connecticut-based 1772 Foundation is looking to help you. The foundation is offering grants to land trusts for three general purposes: land protection; capacity building, including membership building, planned giving programs and training; and internal revolving loan funds to cover transaction costs. In addition to meeting the geographic criteria, land trusts must have a primary interest in farmland protection and have adopted the Land Trust Alliance’s Standards and Practices. Letters of inquiry are due by February 12, 2012.     

New Courses for Current and Aspiring Massachusetts Farmers

Woman-on-tractor.jpgThe Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources is offering three different agricultural business courses for established and aspiring farmers this winter. The courses include an Explorer course for those thinking about getting into farming or expanding from a hobby farm into a commercial enterprise; Planning for Start-Up aimed at those ready to plan their commercial enterprises; and Tilling the Soil of Opportunity for those who have been farming at least two years and need to create a comprehensive business plan. The courses will be offered from January through March of 2012.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN NEW YORK

Friend Us on Facebook for Farm and Food Policy News

FaceBook.jpgThe New York state legislative season is almost upon us. To stay current on farm and food policy developments at the New York State Capitol, “friend” our New York state field office on Facebook. We’ll keep you updated on proposed legislation, budget negotiations and the latest farm and food policy news as well as plans for our upcoming No Farms No Food® Rally & Lobby Day!

Federal Funds Help Protect 700 Acres of Hudson Valley Farmland

Mid-Hudson.jpgIn late September, new funding from the federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program was announced as a match to local dollars to protect Hudson Valley farmland. Working together, Scenic Hudson, the Dutchess Land Conservancy and the Town of Red Hook matched federal funds to purchase easements on 700 acres of farmland on 10 farms in Dutchess and Columbia counties. Leveraging federal dollars is more important than ever for protecting farmland in New York given limited funds at all levels of government. The 2012 Farm Bill negotiations are heating up and funding for the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program is part of the debate. Find out more about the 2012 Farm Bill.

How Much Food Could Urban Farms in New York City Produce?

cover_UrbAg_NY.jpgA new report, The Potential for Urban Agriculture in New York City, from Columbia University’s Earth Institute analyzes New York City’s capacity for urban crop production. The report identifies 5,000 acres of vacant land in the city’s five boroughs that could be suitable for farming and points out that—although New York City could never feed itself—yields per square foot from intensively managed urban farms can exceed conventional agriculture. In addition, by making city dwellers aware of farming, urban agriculture serves as a catalyst for strengthening support for a regional food system.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN PENNSYLVANIA

Honoring a Farmland Preservation Hero

Dahlia-and-Zinnia.jpgWe recently honored Robert E. (Bob) Ambrose of Ridgeview Acres Farm with the Pennsylvania Farmland Preservation Local Heroes Award. The award recognizes his outstanding efforts to further the mission of the Pennsylvania Farmland Preservation Association by protecting the farms, natural resources and waters of the commonwealth. “Bob has shown the power of what one individual can do by sticking to a cause and steadily working on its issues,” says our Mid-Atlantic Director, Jim Baird. “He has served as the appointed chairman of the Westmoreland County Agricultural Land Preservation Board since 2001, which has preserved over 10,960 acres of productive farmland.” Bob and his wife run a 130-acre farm and are dedicated to protecting farmland from development.

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN WASHINGTON

Uncovering the Network of Farms and Food in the Puget Sound

woman-at-market.jpgA foodshed study of the Puget Sound region is underway to research what is produced and eaten within 100 miles of Seattle. The study will also look at how food travels from the farmer to the consumer and how to reconnect the two to produce more food locally. Our goal is to make a stronger case for the need for local farmland and to identify opportunities for increased local production of food. Look for early results in December and the completed study by March.

What Are the Most Endangered Farm Landscapes in the Pacific Northwest?

Montana-hayfield.jpgWe're identifying the farm landscapes of the Pacific Northwest that are most affected by urban sprawl, second home development, water pollution and other threats. Our hope is to develop alliances with local groups to address the issues and protect farms and farmers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and western Montana. 

Pioneers in Conservation Program

salmon-in-river.jpgThanks to a recent grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, we'll soon offer grants through the Pioneers in Conservation program to support conservation projects on farmland in Washington. The program awards small grants to farmers to leverage other sources of conservation incentives and targets conservation efforts to high-priority rivers and wetlands. Look for announcements later this year.

NATIONAL IMPACT

Time Is Running Out to Ask Congress to Protect Conservation Funding

Capitol-with-flag.jpgCongress is facing decisions that will impact the future of programs that help farmers and ranchers protect working lands, implement effective conservation practices and improve agriculture's role in the environment. As early as this weekend, the Senate and House Agriculture Committees are scheduled to submit their budget recommendations for farm bill programs to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. We need your help in urging the Agriculture Committees to support conservation programs. While our farms and ranches must contribute to the task of deficit reduction, conservation has already faced significant cuts among farm bill programs. Join with hundreds of other conservationists and dozens of environmental and agricultural organizations in helping us defend conservation funding by asking your legislators to make conservation programs a priority. If you've already contacted your legislators, please help spread the word by forwarding this message to a friend.

Locally Grown Food: Not Just for Yuppies Anymore, but a New Economic Engine?

farm-to-table.jpgAs farmers markets flourish, food-stamp recipients seek food from nearby farms, and chefs of all stripes find success in using locally produced and seasonal ingredients, local food agribusiness models may be poised to help boost economies across the nation. For example, farmers markets in King County, Washington, gross an estimated $30 million annually with nearby small farms ringing up annual sales ranging from $10,000 to more than $1 million. In northeast Ohio, a recent study concluded that if the region produced 25 percent more of the food it consumed, 27,000 new jobs would be created and tax revenue would grow by more than $125 million. These positive signs in the farm-to-table movement are also needed to attract new and beginning farmers like Jason Salvo and Siri Erickson-Brown—both 32, with graduate degrees and well-honed entrepreneurial skills—so our farmland can stay in farming.

Speaking of farm-to-table, join diners from across the country to support farms and farmers by enjoying a meal at a participating restaurant or eatery during Dine Out for Farms week, October 16 to 22.

AROUND THE COUNTRY

October marks the first annual National Farm to School Month. To help support the farm to school connection, Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont introduced the Fresh and Local School Foods Act in Congress.

The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation is currently accepting applications nationwide from individuals looking to start their own community orchards.

Nutrition experts at the University of Missouri recently released recommendations highlighting the health benefits of eating farm-fresh produce, including eating seasonally and taking family trips to the farmers market.

USDA National Resource Conservation Service Chief Dave White brought together scientists, researchers and farmers in Maryland to discuss new ways to protect clean water on farms.

Through October, the National Association of Resource Conservation and Development Council is seeking signatures for a “We the People” petition to the White House to reinstate federal funding for RC&D programs eliminated in April. RC&D programs work to enhance conservation in rural communities.

In North Dakota, farmers, nutritionists, city planners, business leaders, and extension service agents are coming together under the Cass Clay Food Initiative to find ways to strengthen the local food system.

From November 8-10, the tenth annual New Agrarian Conference will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The conference will feature a special session with Bill McKibben and Bill deBuys on “Climate, Land and Livelihoods in the Southwest.”

If you are in Washington, D.C., on October 24, stop by the National Archives for their Food Day Open House. We will be there along with the USDA and ThinkFood Group.

October is Apple Month and to celebrate, Peeled Snacks is offering a 40 percent discount to members and friends of American Farmland Trust. Just enter “aftforty” at checkout to take advantage of this great deal while helping to save farms and farmland.


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