|Washington, D.C., July 7, 2010—“ We don’t produce enough fresh fruits and vegetables in the United States for everyone to eat a balanced and nutritious diet,” says Jon Scholl, President of American Farmland Trust (AFT). “In fact, it is estimated that we need at least another 13 million acres of farmland growing fruits and vegetables just for Americans to meet the minimum daily requirement of fruits and vegetables set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) 2005 dietary guidelines.”
“This statistic is even more poignant with the release of the USDA’s new Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, which calls for Americans to include even more fruits and vegetables into their diet,” Scholl adds. “With the majority of these fruits and vegetables grown in the path of development, and the need for 13 million more acres, we must ask, how can we afford to lose another acre of farmland and still expect to improve the health of our nation?”
“Consumers help drive demand for fresh, healthy foods, and one way they can do that is to shop locally or regionally for these products. It helps support the farms and community economically,” says Scholl. “I also hope to bring the message to the agriculture community that the demand for fruits and vegetables, and other farm-grown products seems to be at an all time high—it’s a great opportunity for farmers to expand into fruit and vegetable production, and to consider farmers markets or other similar venues in their marketing strategies.”
Scholl notes that there are several things consumers can do to help make sure there is better access for all Americans to fresh, healthy foods; and to help save the farms and farmland that are critical to supplying that bounty:
- Support your local farmers markets, CSA’s and other direct-farm outlets;
- Cast your vote for the markets you love in AFT’s America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest;
- Get involved in your local land trust or conservation organization to help protect our working farm and ranchland; or your local planning organization to help plan for the future for agriculture in your community.
American Farmland Trust has sponsored the nationwide America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest to promote the value of farmers markets in communities, and to make the connection between fresh local foods and the local farms and farmland that supply them. Farmers markets play a critical role in keeping farmers on the land. Keeping farms viable, by providing them with a venue where they can provide their much sought after products is one of the best ways to save the land that sustains us.
American Farmland Trust is the nation's leading conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land. Since its founding in 1980 by a group of farmers and citizens concerned about the rapid loss of farmland to development, AFT has helped save millions of acres of farmland from development and led the way for the adoption of conservation practices on millions more.
AFT's national office is located in Washington, DC. Phone: 202-331-7300. For more information, visit www.farmland.org.