Annapolis, MD, February 12, 2014 --American Farmland Trust (AFT) expressed its disappointment today in a proposal by Governor Martin O’Malley to cut funding for farmland protection in Maryland in half, said Jim Baird, Mid-Atlantic Office Director for AFT.
“Until now, Gov. O’Malley has supported full funding for farmland protection in Maryland, however, we are disappointed his budget proposal this year includes $23 million in cuts for the state’s agricultural easements programs. The cut comes on top of an $8 million cut last year by the legislature,” said Baird.
“Maryland has the third highest rate of farmland loss in the country, losing nearly 20,000 acres of farmland a year to development,” said Baird. “A survey released in January by American Farmland Trust recognized Maryland as a leader in farmland protection ranking third in the number of acres protected. That’s why this cut hurts more.”
The AFT survey of state farmland protection funding found a 19 percent increase in state funding from 2011 to 2012, while overall funding levels are still 39 percent below where they were in 2008.
“AFT, agricultural and conservation groups in Maryland are calling on the Governor and the legislature to use bond funding to make up a portion of the current cuts to reverse the decline in farmland protection funding,” said Baird.
“In the face of a global need to double food production by 2050, these cuts in funding are unacceptable. We believe state, local and national governments must step up to the plate and do more to protect land and keep farmers farming,” said Andrew McElwaine, President and CEO of AFT.
McElwaine did note increased funding was included in the new Farm Bill for the federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program that provides matching funds for farmland protection.
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 more information on the policies and programs of the American Farmland Trust, visit www.farmland.org, follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmericanFarmland or Twitter www.twitter.com/farmland.
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