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Jobs, Local Food, Farmland And Beginning Farmers Key ThemesFor November 20th Conference In Albany


David Haight, New York State Director, American Farmland Trust, 518-581-0078, newyork@farmland.org


Saratoga Springs, N.Y., November 14, 2013—Two hundred farmers, public officials, food professionals, land trusts and citizens will be coming to Albany on November 20th to attend the Harvesting Opportunities In New York: Growing Local Food Economies and Protecting Farmland Conference organized by the American Farmland Trust.

The one-day conference is designed to inspire and educate New Yorkers on ways to expand the state’s farm economy, protect farmland and expand access to healthy food grown locally.

“American agriculture is the most productive in the world and provides food security for hundreds of millions. Yet over the last thirty years we’ve lost more than 23 million acres of farmland to development, more than an acre of land a minute,” said Andrew McElwaine, President and CEO of AFT and a keynote speaker at the conference.

“According to the USDA, for every acre of American farmland lost it will take three to five acres of land elsewhere in the world to replace it. And recent research shows most of this land is being converted from tropical forests,” he added.

McElwaine challenged the State of New York to keep up with neighboring states in farmland preservation.

“In Pennsylvania, the state has invested $800 million in farmland preservation and preserved more than 480,000 acres. By comparison the state of New York has invested $110 million and preserved 45,000 acres. New York can do better,” he said.

The Harvesting Opportunities Conference has four tracks: Buy Local, Save Farms In Your Community, Spread the Word and Farmland for the Next Generation of Farmers.

Conference workshops will highlight strategies to expand the volume of locally grown food served at colleges, senior centers and other institutions, make farmland affordable for next generation farmers, funding and priorities for farmland protection programs, engaging the public in saving farmland and strategies for beginning farmers to find farmland.

“New York is at a pivotal time,” said David Haight, New York Director for American Farmland Trust. “The state has important opportunities to strengthen our local food economy and renew our commitment to protecting farmland, including restarting our state’s Farmland Protection Program. This conference will highlight paths forward that create jobs, provide access to better food and protect a healthy environment.”

Financial support for the conference was provided by the Environmental Protection Fund and the New York State Conservation Partnership Program in collaboration with the Land Trust Alliance and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

Special program funding for the “Buy Local” track is provided by the Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation and the New World Foundation’s Local Economies Project. Funding for the “Farmland For The Next Generation Of Farmers” track is provided by the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency.

Conference sponsors include: Farm Credit East; Price Chopper’s Golub Foundation; DASH NY; Park Slope Food Coop; Slow Food NYC; Great Performances; Foodlink; NOFA NY; Peconic Land Trust; Scenic Hudson; Adams Fairacre Farm; Hudson Valley Fresh; La Bella Associates; John Deere; Dairylea; Dairy Farmers of America; Food & Health Network of South Central NY; Rural Health Network; Saratoga PLAN; NY Farm Bureau; Capital District Community Gardens; LEAD NY; University of Albany Green Scene; Longfield Farm and Orange County Land Trust.

Registration for the conference is $90. Walk-in registrations are welcome the day of the conference. Scholarships are available for beginning farmers and students.

For more information about the conference and to register visit: http://newyork.farmland.org, send email to: newyork@farmland.org or call 518-581-0078.

The American Farmland Trust is the nation’s leading conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land.

For information on American Farmland Trust’s work in New York visit: www.farmland.org/newyork, Facebook: www.facebook.com/AmericanFarmlandtrustny or Twitter: @FarmlandNY#Harvesting Opportunity NY

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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.

American Farmland Trust