A Farm Bill Almanac for 2012, Protected Farms for Local Food


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Welcome to the February 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 CALIFORNIA

Focus on the San Joaquin Valley

Overlooking San Joaquin Valley farmlandWe are pleased to welcome Daniel O’Connell to our California Field Office staff as San Joaquin Valley Field Representative. O’Connell comes to us from the Sequoia Riverlands Trust, where he launched that organization’s farmland conservation program. He brings a broad base of experience in working with farmers, most recently completing the first agricultural conservation easements with farmers in the four-county region of the southern San Joaquin Valley. A native of
Southern California, O’Connell is based in Tulare County. Please join us in welcoming Daniel!

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN MARYLAND

 Governor O’Malley Proposes Full Funding for Conservation Programs

Jimmy-&-da-Gov-drop.jpgGreat news for farmland protection in Maryland! Governor Martin O’Malley recently proposed full funding for Program Open Space and related farmland conservation programs in his 2012 budget. Dozens of supporters of Maryland farms and farmland have already passed along their gratitude. Though we expect conservation funds to be under fire soon in the state legislature, please join us in thanking Governor O’Malley for keeping farmland protection a priority.  

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN NEW ENGLAND

Farm Bill Forums Focus on Local, Regional Food Systems

Vermont barn in winter with American flagAs Congress begins the farm bill reauthorization process, we’re partnering with other New England organizations to help demonstrate how this bill affects food, the environment and communities in the region. At the recent Let’s Talk about Food event at the Boston Museum of Science, we discussed the importance of farm bill conservation programs to New England’s environment, economy, communities and public health. We also took part in Farm Fresh RI’s Local Food Forum, where we were honored to join Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME), one of four House Agriculture Committee members from New England, who talked about her Local Farm, Food and Jobs ActThis legislation, introduced jointly with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and sponsored by Senators Leahy (D-VT), Sanders (I-VT) and Shaheen (D-NH), would improve federal farm policy and programs that support local and regional food systems. 

New Farmland Restoration Program Aims to Grow Agriculture in Connecticut

Connecticut Valley FarmConnecticut was coined the “Provision State” by George Washington for the role its productive farms played in feeding the troops for the American Revolution. Now, with the resurgence of agriculture in the state, demand for farmland is growing and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture is launching a new Farmland Restoration Program to help farmers and landowners restore private, state, municipal and land trust lands back into sustainable agricultural production. Up to $20,000 per project will be available to implement restoration and conservation practices. Details are available at the Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s website or by calling (860) 713-2511.

Governor Malloy Joins the Working Lands Alliance for January Meeting

Working Lands Alliance dropConnecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and Commissioner of Agriculture Steven Reviczky recently joined a meeting of the Working Lands Alliance steering committee. The governor reiterated his commitment to farmland protection and talked about the potential of the newly enacted Farmland Restoration Program to bring farmland back into production and help grow the agricultural economy. The governor also shared his hopes for the reinvigorated Governor’s Council on Agricultural Development. “It is gratifying to see Governor Malloy and the legislature not only attentive to farmland protection but also to ways of utilizing the productivity of these lands,” explained Terry Jones, WLA
                              Chairman. “We are really filling the toolbox with the tools we need.”

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN NEW YORK

Rally Time!

2012 No Farms No Food Rally cardJoin the growing movement! It’s not too late to register for the No Farms No Food® Rally at the state capitol on February 15. Farmers, local foods enthusiasts, land trusts, farm-to-school advocates, hunger relief volunteers and others from across the state will converge to meet with legislators about the high priority that New Yorkers place on stopping the loss of farmland and supporting the contribution agriculture makes to the state economy. A lunch of local foods will be served. Bus transportation round-trip from New York City is available.

Chipping Away at the Farmland Protection Project Backlog

NY-capitol-drop.jpgGovernor Cuomo is holding the line at $12 million in funding for the Farmland Protection Program in his 2012-2013 Executive Budget Proposal. A far cry from the $30 million of 2008, it is a step in the right direction. In 2010, the program was slashed to a mere $5.2 million—not nearly enough to address the backlog of New York farm families who want to protect their land. Several more farms in Washington, Rensselear and Yates counties were recently protected using state funds, but we still have a long way to go.

No Farms No Food® Rally on the Radio

The Farm Report LogoThe airwaves are buzzing with talk about our No Farms No Food® Rally on February 15. On The Farm Hour, a program of WI0X, Roxbury Community Radio, Madalyn Warren interviewed New York State Director David Haight about Governor Cuomo’s executive budget proposal and what it means for New York agriculture. On Heritage Radio’s Farm Report, Erin Fairbanks interviewed our field representative Laura Ten Eyck about the reasons that urban New Yorkers need to be a part of the No Farms No Food® Rally. This Saturday, Haight will be
                            on the Thunder Country Ag & Garden Report on Thunder 102 for more rally talk

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST

How are Puget Sound Region Farmland Protection Programs Doing?

A barn and mountain in Puget SoundFarmland is an invaluable resource for the environment, economy and residents of the Puget Sound region, but it continues to disappear at an alarming rate as the greater Seattle area expands. Our new report, Losing Ground: Farmland Protection in the Puget Sound Region, presents findings and recommendations from a study of farmland regulations, tax incentives and development rights programs in the 12 county Puget Sound region. Three counties—Skagit, Whatcom and King—are recognized as the top programs, and there are detailed recommendations on actions that each of the 12 counties can take to better protect farmland and farming. 

Exploring Western Washington’s Foodshed

Apple tree along river in WashingtonOur work continues with the University of Washington on a study of western Washington’s food production and consumption. We have learned some fascinating things so far. Did you know we eat two pounds of food for every pound produced in the region? The strong local demand means that many foods could be produced in greater quantity, including pork, beef, leafy greens and many other vegetables. The focus of our work is now shifting to how to produce more in the region, including opportunities to bring more land into production, increase yields on farmland and modify what we produce to respond to the growing interest in healthy diets.

Uncovering the Most Endangered Landscapes

Farmland near Spokane, WashingtonOur analysis of the most threatened farm landscapes in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and western Montana is nearing completion. We’ve identified more than a dozen landscapes that have major problems with urban sprawl, second home development, water availability and pollution—and we are in the process of winnowing the list down to the five to seven landscapes we’ll highlight this year. Our work doesn’t end with pointing out the challenges faced in these areas! We’re also reaching out to local groups to build partnerships and develop action strategies to address challenges in each of the landscapes.

NATIONAL IMPACT

The Farmland Protection and Local Food Connection

Farmer picking carrotsHow might the growing demand for local food impact farmland conservation? The linkage between protected farmland, farmers markets and other direct channels is growing stronger. With more than 7,100 farmers markets across the country, the USDA predicts that the purchase amount of locally grown foods will reach $7 billion this year. This is a big opportunity both for improving farm viability and creating chances for young and beginning farmers to have access to land. When Dave Dumaresq of Farmer Dave’s CSA in Massachusetts decided to expand his direct-to-consumer farm business through farmers markets and farm stands, he looked to purchase protected land. We are currently exploring similar connections through work in New England and in Illinois to assess the local impact of farmland connection programs.

A Farm Bill Almanac for 2012

2012 Farm Bill BarnIt’s farm bill time again. Dominated by discussions over the federal budget, this reauthorization process is unlike any others in the past. What’s in store for the 2012 Farm Bill? Should the stars align, here is our Farm Bill Almanac of predictions for what topics will resonate through the farm bill reauthorization process. The farm bill is an important opportunity to rethink our public investment in farms and food. As decisions in Washington get underway, we’ll stay in touch and ask you to speak up and be heard.

AROUND THE COUNTRY

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell recently announced the distribution of $1.2 million in farmland preservation grants through local purchase of development rights programs.

Earlier this month, the Historic Lewes Farmers Market helped five Delaware farmers strengthen their sustainable farming education by sponsoring their participation in the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture Farming for the Future Conference.

Which cities and towns excel at farmland and other open space protection? Lasting Value: Open Space Planning and Preservation Successes highlights creative preservation solutions from 24 counties from across the country.

Trading in corporate jobs for farm fields, a couple in Missouri are finding help to overcome the challenges faced by beginning farmers.  

On February 9, our California Director Ed Thompson will introduce a screening of The Last Crop at University of California Davis. The screening is free and open to the public.

Veterans in New Mexico have the opportunity to participate in free classes as part of the Veterans Farm Basic Training Skills program.

State legislators recently passed a bill to boost farmland protection efforts in Utah. The state has lost more than 300,000 acres of farmland since 1982.

From farmers markets and cheesemakers to orchards and local diners, the new FarmPlate online directory offers the chance to search more than 30,000 locations by zip code to find local, sustainable food options.

From March 12 to April 6, the USDA will conduct the general signup for farmers to participate in the Conservation Reserve Program. Presently, about 30 million acres are enrolled in CRP nationwide.

The Seventh Annual International Symposium for Integrated Pest Management is scheduled for March 27 to 29 in Memphis, Tennessee.


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