This past Sunday The New York Times ran an article by Michael Pollan titled Farmer in Chief—a letter to our next President of the United States that recognizes the central importance of farmland to our society, economy and environment.
While our stance is different on some topics, we applaud Mr. Pollan for highlighting the work that must be done to ensure a healthy future for farms, food and communities. The article raises several key points:
We must have farms producing food in order to feed ourselves and provide for our future.
- “in America, where we have only about two million farmers left.… And where farmland is being lost to development at a rate of 2,880 acres per day…. For nations that lose the ability to substantially feed themselves will find themselves as gravely compromised in their international dealings as nations that depend on foreign sources of oil do. But while there are alternatives to oil, there are no alternatives to food.”
The protection of farmland is critical for our everyday life.
- “In the same way that when we came to recognize the supreme ecological value of wetlands we erected high bars to their development, we need to recognize the value of farmland….”
It isn’t farmland without farmers. We have to keep farmers on the land, find ways to elevate the importance of agriculture and make agriculture attractive to young people who want to enter farming.
- “National security also argues for preserving every acre of farmland we can and then making it available to new farmers. We simply will not be able to depend on distant sources of food, and therefore need to preserve every acre of good farmland within a day’s drive of our cities.”
Farmers and farmland are central to solving some of the greatest challenges facing us as a nation in the 21st century.
- “And lastly, your policies need to reconceive agriculture as part of the solution to environmental problems like climate change.”
By writing such a thought-provoking piece, Mr. Pollan has everyone talking about the important issues that are central to our mission and our work! I am proud to lead American Farmland Trust as we continue our efforts to support farms and protect farmland for the future: connecting communities to fresh local food, engaging agriculture in good stewardship practices that provide cost-effective solutions for our environmental challenges, and fighting for better farm and food policies.
I hope you’ll read Michael Pollan’s letter to America’s future president and that you will continue to support our efforts to bring change on many of the points he spotlighted for the greater public.
American Farmland Trust