Planning for agriculture and food systems
Whether community, state or regional — planning is not complete without a plan for food and agriculture. We're working across the country to help create the vision, road map and policies needed so local agriculture can grow to meet increasing public demands for local food, energy and ecosystem services. Elements include: keeping land available for farming, supporting conservation practices, encouraging the next generation of farmers and investing in economic development to sustain local farms and promote universal food security.
New Report: A Review of Food Policy Councils and Food System Plans
American Farmland Trust reviewed 134 food policy councils and food system plans to see if they lead to state and local government actions to support agricultural viability, natural resource conservation and community food security. The report, Supporting Agricultural Viability and Community Food security: A Review of Food Policy Councils and Food System Plans, found that both can make incremental improvements and contribute to policy changes, especially at local levels. However, the verdict is still out as to whether either approach has the ability to foster transformational, system-wide change.
Growing Food Connections
Growing Food Connections is a five-year integratedresearch, extension and education initiative
to strengthen food systems in the United States. It seeks to build local
governments’ capacity and develop public policy tools to promote community food
security and agricultural viability.
Planning for Agriculture Conference
National and regional experts gathered in Seattle, Washington in April to share knowledge about how to save family farms and support local food production. The conference focused on ways local governments can support farms, food and the next generation of farmers with planning, policy and infrastructure development. “We’re at a crossroads on local farms and food,” said AFT Pacific Northwest Director Dennis Canty, “We can save our local food supply, but only if we work together to protect our farmland and support our local farmers.”
Learn more about the discussion topics and download presentations.
Erie County, New York
The Erie County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan promotes connections between farmers and consumers in an urban New York county. Developed through an extensive public process, recommended actions include creating and supporting local policies and programs to improve farm viability, conserve working farmland and support a new generation of farmers.
Fostering Farm and Food Security in New England
The 2010 New England Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Land Conservation [PDF] report called for a New England Farm and Food Security Initiative to keep the region's farmland in farming. Recommendations included finding ways to address challenges and opportunities to increase production and consumption of New England grown farm and food products and protect the region's farmland.
American Farmland Trust has teamed up with the Conservation Law Foundation and the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group to identify policy levers to support improved farm profitability, expanded food production and the agricultural infrastructure needed to foster greater food resiliency in New England. Drawing upon expertise and experience from across the region, this two-year project [PDF] is analyzing policy gaps and barriers in five key areas and recommending where change is most needed, at what level and scale, and what kinds of advocacy might be most effective.
Local and Regional Food Systems
We are working to educate and engage planners, food policy council members, leaders in sustainable agriculture and other advocates of food system change. Our webinar series, Planning for Food and Agriculture: Taking a Systems Approach, seeks to provide an opportunity for individuals working in local and regional food systems to learn from successful examples.
We're partnering with the California Board of Food and Agriculture in facilitating the process to build a strategic plan for the future of agriculture in the nation’s leading farm state. California’s Ag Vision engages leaders and experts in agriculture and related fields to address economic, food safety, environmental and other pressing issues confronting growers and the agricultural sector.
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Agriculture is the backbone of the local economy in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Working with Wallace, Roberts & Todd (WRT) Design we helped update the Growth Management element of the county’s Comprehensive Plan. The plan’s strategies focused on the viability of the agricultural industry and the creation of a Smart Growth Toolbox. The plan update, Envision Lancaster County, won a 2006 Outstanding Planning Award from the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Planning Association and a 2009 National Smart Growth Achievement award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. AFT also worked with and incorporated recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission on Agriculture: Keep Lancaster County Farming for Generations to Come.
Guiding Communities Through the Process
Planning for agriculture is an important process to ensure the future of local farms, farmland and food. AFT’s Planning for Agriculture guides are based on our experience helping dozens of towns and counties across the country create plans and programs that support agriculture.
Read more about AFT’s work across the country in: