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Focus on Wisconsin

Hot Potato, Green Potato?

Healthy Grown Potato LabelFrom deep in the heart of Wisconsin farmland, comes the unique and amazing story of the Eco potato. American Farmland Trust was involved in the Eco-potato's development through administration of EPA regional and federal grants. Started in the late 1990s by a group of farmers and the World Wildlife Fund, the Eco potato has lowered toxicity from pesticides by remarkable amounts through the use of Integrated Pest Management or IPM practices. The Healthy Grown label was designed to educate consumers about the extra measures being adopted by farmers to ensure healthy and safe potatoes. Although the program started with the potato it expanded to include many of the other crops that were planted in the growing rotation. The program has met with a degree of success and has been a model for many programs like it.

Box of Healthy Grown PotatoesThe benefits to the farmer come in the form of having a viable market for their safer food and not having to use potentially hazardous chemicals on the farm. Supermarket chains are catching on and are expressing more of an interest in certifications like this one.

“Although farmers aren’t seeing a premium, they have a guaranteed market, and also feel good about the program,” says American Farmland Trust expert, Ann Sorensen. She also noted that the buyers, although not willing to provide farmers with a better price for their crops, do provide oversight and hold the farmers to the certification standards.

There are many, many certification standards being developed and already on the shelf. This shows that producers are willing to accept the risks and tackle the efforts in changing to a more environmentally safe way of farming. For consumers, the effort lies in educating themselves on what is out there, setting their own standards for what they eat and reinforcing those standards through their purchasing power.

wisconsin farmAFT Helps Calendonia Plan for Agriculture

Our assessment of the cost to acquire agricultural conservation easements in Caledonia helped the town's elected officials evaluate the feasibility of a local purchase of development rights (PDR) program. The annual cost to taxpayers for a PDR program ranges from approximately $13 to $31 per $100,000 of assessed value, depending on the source of funding and how much acreage is protected, according to the assessment. more

Purchase of Development Rights Programs in Wisconsin

The town of Dunn in south-central Wisconsin was the first municipality in the state to create a purchase of development rights (PDR) program. In July 2002, the town of Bayfield in the far northern part of the state followed Dunn's lead, creating the state's second PDR program. As farmers, other landowners, municipal planners and local citizens begin to understand both the value of farmland and the fact that agriculture is greatly threatened by development in the state, they are beginning to express much more interest in programs like PDR.

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