Land Conservation Commission Recommends Steps to Keep Farmland in Farming
A report finalized by the New England Governors’ Blue Ribbon Commission on Land Conservation offers recommendations to keep the region’s farmland in farming. Recommendations include a New England Farm and Food Security Initiative to identify and address barriers and opportunities to increase production and consumption of New England-grown farm and food products, and protect the region’s agricultural lands. Commission members briefed the New England governors on the recommendations, and we will be working with the Commission and the six state Departments of Agriculture to move these valuable recommendations forward.
“Keep Local Farms” Program Aims to Help New England Dairy Farmers
A new “Keep Local Farms” program launched by New England state agricultural leaders and dairy promotion organizations and inspired by the “fair trade” concept, will allow consumers to contribute online to directly support the region’s dairy farmers, and in the future, through co-branded dairy products. “Dairy farms are the ‘anchor tenants’ of New England’s agricultural landscape,” said our New England Director Cris Coffin. “The stability of this bucolic pastured landscape depends on the economic stability of our dairy farms—and this initiative offers consumers a way to support local dairy farms directly and help ensure that farmers receive a sustainable price for their milk.”
FACT: New England has approximately 1,880 dairy farms; dairy farmers are currently receiving about .97 cents per gallon of milk while it costs about $1.80 a gallon to produce
Changes to Tax Policy Impacting Farms and Farmland
Legislation enacted in 2008 in New Hampshire and Vermont will mean changes to how farmland is taxed. In New Hampshire, House Bill 1442 provides additional tax relief for agricultural buildings and certain forest buildings at the option of a municipality. If adopted by a town, the measure allows agricultural buildings to be assessed at their replacement cost less depreciation and the land beneath the building to be assessed at 10 percent of its full market price. In Vermont, Senate Bill 311 broadens the state’s current use assessment by allowing the enrollment of wetlands, rare or exemplary natural communities, riparian buffers, vernal pools, and significant wildlife habitat.
Vermont Acts to Reduce Water Pollution From Agriculture
Reducing agricultural run-off is a major component of Vermont Governor Jim Douglas' "Clean and Clear" initiative, an effort to improve water quality across Vermont, including the Lake Champlain watershed. As part of this initiative, Vermont’s legislature enacted a measure in 2004 to regulate approximately 200 medium-sized dairy farms that produce 50 percent of the state's milk. More Issues
Farms Generate Significant Local Economic Activity
AFT conducted agricultural industry profiles to gauge the impact of Vermont's farmland protection program on the long-term viability of farming in Addison and Franklin counties—two of the top agricultural producing counties in Vermont. The profiles found that Addison and Franklin County farms added $450 million annually to the local economy, were responsible for more than one-tenth of all the farm sales in New England, supported local businesses by spending $169.6 million on farm expenses and provided more than ten percent of the jobs in the region.
Download The Economic Importance of Agriculture: A Profile of Addison and Franklin Counties [PDF].
|AFT awarded Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT) a lifetime achievement award for working tirelessly to support programs protecting farmland and farmers.
Vermont Landowners Satisfied with Farmland Conservation Program
An AFT study analyzing Vermont’s state-level farmland conservation program, which permanently conserves Vermont farmland, found that 98 percent of participating landowners were satisfied with the program. The study also determined that Vermont’s program helps keep farmers in business. Without it, an estimated one-fifth of the state’s conserved farmland would already have been sold for development. The study was conducted in collaboration with Vermont Land Trust, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and the Vermont Department of Agriculture. From the Field: What Farmers Have to Say about the Vermont Farmland Conservation Program, summarizes the highly favorable results of the study and profiles some participating farmers.
Read the Executive Summary.
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New England Field Office
Cris Coffin, New England States Director
1 Short Street, Suite 2
Northampton, MA 01060-3952
(p)413-586-9330 ext. 29