2012 Farm Bill Charges Ahead and How to Put Your Farmers Market on the Map

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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? Check out our Farmland Report blog. 

Road to the 2012 Farm Bill

Female farmer with hayThe farm bill is charging ahead with the Senate slated to start debating the package in early June. While there is still some disagreement on provisions of the farm safety net that impact rice and peanut growers, much of the bill enjoys bipartisan support, so there is a good chance that it will move forward. On the House side, the Agriculture Committee is writing their version of the bill and will likely bring it forward to a committee vote in mid- to late-June. “We continue to work with both the House and the Senate to advance a robust farmland protection program that partners with state and local efforts to preserve threatened farmland,” explains Mitch Hunter, Manager of Federal Policy at American Farmland Trust.

Put Your Farmers Market on the Map

Vegetables at the farmers marketFarmers are unfolding their tents and propping up tables to unveil their early bounty of the year at farmers markets across the country. Through June 5, farmers market managers have the opportunity to add or update their market information in the USDA National Farmers Market Directory. This compilation of information on farmers markets is designed to help promote local farm products and gauge nationwide trends impacting farmers. To be included in the 2012 directory, all information must be added or updated by June 5.

This year, the USDA listing will be our guide for which markets can participate in American Farmland Trust’s America’s Favorite Farmers Markets™ Contest. “The USDA Farmers Market Directory is more than just an invaluable guide to farmers markets in the nation,” says Jon Scholl, President of American Farmland Trust. “It is helping everyone who has a stake in connecting consumers to their local farmers keep track of the growing number of farmers markets keeping communities together. The directory will also be incorporated into the Know Your Farmer Know Your Food Compass, an interactive map highlighting resources and efforts related to local and regional food systems, and helps populate farmers market listings on food guides like the one found on Real Time Farms


California Agriculture Board Hosts Meeting on High-Speed Rail

Farmland in San Joaquin Valley, CaliforniaEarlier this month, thought leaders and stakeholders representing California agriculture shared perspectives on the proposed high-speed rail project with the California State Board of Food and Agriculture. Edward Thompson, Jr., California Director at American Farmland Trust, warned that the project could significantly increase farmland loss in the San Joaquin Valley unless local land use policies encourage more efficient development. Most of the land lost will be the prime farmland that surrounds the cities where the high-speed train will stop. Thompson also called for the High Speed Rail Authority and local governments in the Valley to mitigate the loss of farmland and compensate farmers for the losses they will suffer from the taking of their property and disruption of their operations.

Join American Farmland Trust to Celebrate San Diego County Agriculture

Rancho La Jolla, CaliforniaFrom avocados to Valencia oranges, San Diego County provides an abundance of agricultural products that it shares with the nation and the world. On June 8, you are invited to attend a reception at Rancho La Jolla to celebrate the bounty of San Diego County and support the work of American Farmland Trust to protect farmland in the region and throughout California. The Rancho La Jolla reception will be hosted by William and Michelle Lerach along with Chef Isabel Cruz and will include an array of food from local farmers and purveyors. 

Davis Farmers Market Cookbook Celebrates Local Farms and Food

Watermelon at Davis Farmers Market, CaliforniaThis spring, Davis Farmers Market, a 2009 winner in the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets™ contest, debuted its first cookbook. The Davis Farmers Market Cookbook features recipes highlighting the core of the market’s values—to help keep farmland protected and active by supporting local farmers. “Davis Farmers Market and the people of Yolo County recognize that if there are no local farms, there can be no local food,” says American Farmland Trust’s California Director Edward Thompson, Jr. “They are true farmland protection advocates helping to spread the No Farms No Food® message in unique, informative ways.”

Coalition to Save Farms Seeks to Maintain Pennsylvania Farmland Protection Funds

Sprawl in Lancaster, PennsylvaniaConservation groups—including American Farmland Trust— concerned about Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s proposed budget cuts to farmland preservation have pulled together to form the Coalition to Save Farms. The state’s award winning farmland preservation program is funded through a dedicated tax on the sale of cigarettes. The Governor wants to permanently redirect this funding to the general fund. With no source of funds to replace the cigarette tax, the program will not survive, as former Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding recently described. “Now is the time for Pennsylvanians to let their elected officials know that they support continued dedicated state funding for farmland preservation, and that the issue is important to their economic well-being and cultural heritage,” explains Jim Baird, Mid-Atlantic Director at American Farmland Trust. Find out more about ways you can help the Coalition defend farmland protection funding.

American Farmland Trust Midwest Director Appointed to State Conservation Committees

Mike Baise, Midwest DirectorMike Baise, Midwest Director for American Farmland Trust, recently joined the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service State Technical Committee in two states—Indiana and Illinois. Appointed by Jane Hardisty, Indiana State Conservationist, and Ivan Dozier, Illinois State Conservationist, respectively, these committees work across each state to implement conservation legislation and programs supported through the farm bill. “Mike is well-deserving of these appointments,” says Ann Sorensen, Director of Research at American Farmland Trust. “He brings a unique passion and enthusiastic vision to the work of American Farmland Trust throughout the Midwest. We are excited that he can bring these qualities to help shape critical conservation work in both Indiana and Illinois.”

Indiana Bill Will Help Ease Generational Transfer of Farmland

Midwest corn fieldThis spring, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed a bill to phase out the state inheritance tax. The plan will ease transfer of farmland and other farm assets by reducing associated inheritance taxes up until 2022, at which point the tax will be completely repealed. “With the repeal of the inheritance tax, Governor Daniels and Indiana legislatures have recognized one of the many struggles facing family farms,” says Baise. “I applaud their work to help keep farmland in production and empower the next generation of farmers.”  

Northeast Farm Bill Agenda Highlights Importance of Working Lands Conservation

2012 Farm BillThe Northeast is home to nearly 64 million people, with a population density five times the national average. According to a just-released Farm Bill Agenda for the Northeast, this urban influence has made federal conservation programs critically important in the region. The agenda includes four major priorities for the Conservation Title of the Farm Bill, including adequate conservation technical assistance; continued robust, mandatory funding for conservation programs focused on working farms and forests; appropriate conservation program flexibility to address state and local resource concerns and priorities; and continued funding for on-farm energy efficiency and renewable energy production. American Farmland Trust collaborated with the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) and other state and regional farm, food and conservation organizations on developing the Agenda’s conservation priorities. 

Last Chance to Register: Workshops on Farmland Leasing in Connecticut

Farmer picking beansAmerican Farmland Trust’s New England staff is offering two opportunities to learn more about farmland leasing options in Connecticut. Whether you are just beginning the planning process or developing questions while planning is already underway, Planning Your Land’s Future: An Introductory Workshop for Landowners can help landowners understand their options and make informed choices. A variety of expert speakers will discuss and answer questions about estate planning and land transfer, land protection options and techniques, land rental and leasing, and production and financial management through crop insurance and other tools. Last chance to register is today for one of two opportunities to attend, May 31 and June 1

Community Gathers for Farmers Market Barn Raising in Connecticut

Post and beam barn Coventry, ConnecticutOn May 22, American Farmland Trust joined state, town and community representatives at the construction site of the winning farmers market for the Great Barn Giveaway contest. Last summer, American Farmland Trust staff sat on a panel of judges to select three market finalists to be voted on by the public to receive a post and beam barn from Yankee Post & Beam®. Yankee Post & Beam, based in Claremont, NH, specializes in barn style design and construction. Leah Mayor, Working Lands Alliance Director and New England Project Manager at American Farmland Trust, stood with the winner, The Coventry Regional Farmers' Market, on the grounds of the Nathan Hale Homestead for the barn raising. “The celebration around the construction of the new barn demonstrates the promise of expanding the market, and, in turn, of sharing more Connecticut grown products,” says Mayor. 

Listening Sessions: Hudson Valley Food Hubs

Girl holding strawberriesA series of listening sessions are being held in the Hudson Valley this spring as part of the Hudson Valley Food Hubs Initiative, a project of Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress. At the listening sessions, being held in May and June, farmers, food distributors, restaurant owners and others will discuss challenges and opportunities surrounding local food distribution in New York’s Hudson Valley. “Strengthening food distribution networks is critical to scaling up sales of New York-grown foods to local schools, colleges, hospitals and other institutions,” said David Haight, New York State Director for American Farmland Trust. 

American Farmland Trust Receives Grant to Engage New Yorkers in Farmland Conservation

Gretchen with No Farms No Food signAmerican Farmland Trust has received a grant of $25,000 from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program to support the development of a long-range communications campaign to attract and mobilize new audiences to work together to protect farmland from development in New York. “The Conservation Partnership Program investments in land conservation boost property values, protect public health and support local businesses thus saving tax dollars,” said Senator Mark Grisanti (R-Buffalo), Chairman of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. The Conservation Partnership Program, which receives funding from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund, announced grants to 53 land trusts across New York, totaling $1.4 million last month.

Sundae on the Farm: June 17th

Family at dairy farmIt’s almost time for Saratoga County’s award-winning annual event—Sundae on the Farm!  Every Father’s Day, a Saratoga dairy farm opens its barn doors to thousands of area residents. This year Eildon Tweed Farm in Charlton is hosting the event, which is organized by the Saratoga County Agricultural Promotion Committee. “Sundae on the Farm gives the public a unique opportunity to take an up-close look at the clean milking parlors, well-cared for cows and hard-working people that constitute New York dairy farms,” said Laura Ten Eyck, a New York field representative for event sponsor American Farmland Trust.

Farmland Forever Campaign Kicks Off with “The Farmland 500” Recruitment

Puget Sound farm and farmlandAmerican Farmland Trust’s Pacific Northwest staff is kicking off the Farmland Forever campaign this summer to raise awareness of farmland loss and build support for substantial new funding for purchasing conservation easements on farms. Part of the campaign will include organizing a corps of farmland activists—“The Farmland 500”—to monitor farmland issues in each of the 12 watersheds of the Puget Sound basin. Interested in joining? Get in touch with Dennis Canty, Pacific Northwest Director at American Farmland Trust. 

Local Partnerships Help Energize Pioneers in Conservation Program

salmon-in-river.jpgThe Pioneers in Conservation grant program in the Snoqualmie basin in western Washington is in full swing. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service recently announced a new Puget Sound program under EQIP and American Farmland Trust is developing a proposal that we hope will include six or eight farmers in the valley willing to restore their riparian areas, address fish passage barriers, and undertake other environmental projects on their farms. We will be working with Stewardship Partners, the local conservation district, and the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe to match federal funding and support the farmers. "Thanks to the work of all of the partners," says Eric Nelson of the Pacific Northwest office, "we expect to turn our $30,000 investment in the watershed into a $400,000 restoration program."  


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