Farms provide a lovely landscape, with their majestic barns, colorful rows of crops, and rolling hills dotted with animals grazing. But behind the picturesque scene, a working farm is giving back much more to its community than simply a scenic view. In New York and Vermont, farmland that is well-managed improves the quality of air and water, provides wildlife habitat, and is a source for renewable energy and fresh local food, all while contributing to the regional economy.
Nationwide, New York farmers are among the leading producers of more than 20 fruits, vegetables and dairy products—from milk to apples to sweet corn and maple syrup. Farms, along with agricultural service providers and food processors, annually generate more than $23 billion in economic activity in New York. Vermont’s 7000 farms and farm-related food industry have an estimated $2.6 billion in annual economic impact, while supporting more than 20,000 jobs both on and off the farm in production and processing.
The effects of these benefits from farms can be felt down the road, over in the next valley, far downstream, or in state and neighboring cities hundreds of miles away. The farms of New York and Vermont provide a pretty backdrop, but it’s what these farms produce that form the foundation of our local and regional fiscal, environmental and cultural well being.
Americans are increasingly dependent on a small percent of the population to produce our food, steward our natural resources and preserve the cultural heritage that continues to define our nation.
Despite the importance of agriculture, the future of farms in Vermont and New York is threatened as farmers face global competition, economic challenges, and poorly planned development sprawls out from urban areas onto productive farmland.
A national study by American Farmland Trust titled Farming on the Edge found that three of the Top Twenty Most Threatened Farming Regions in America are found in Vermont and New York.
Farms in Vermont and New York are at risk of disappearing, and once farmland is developed that land and fertile soil are gone forever. In America, we've been losing more than an acre of farmland per minute.
Action to address this problem is needed at every level of government – from town halls to Congress and the White House. Private nonprofit land trusts work in partnership with local communities and government agencies to protect land and keep it available for production of food, fiber and timber. Organizations with an emphasis on protecting farm and ranchland are frequently called agricultural land trusts.
You can help, too by:
- Buying locally grown food and farm products.
- Asking your state and federal legislators to support programs and policies that encourage farmland protection and sustain local farms..
- Renting or selling your land to a local farmer.
- Teaching your children about how food is produced and where is comes from. Visit a local farm!
- Contribute your time and financial resources to a local land trust.
- Speak to community leaders about the importance of local farms and farmland.
Back to New York Home
To learn more about efforts to protect farmland in your community, go to the links below to find and support an agricultural land trust working near you:
Find out what American Farmland Trust is doing to support agriculture in Vermont and New York.