Every year, America loses 1.2 million acres of farmland, much of it our best and most productive farmland near where most Americans live. More than 25,000 acres of farmland per year are converted to development in Wisconsin.
Report Cites Role of Farmers and
Communities to Protect Wisconsin Farmland
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture recently released its assessment
of the Agricultural Enterprise Area (AEA) program, part of the state’s
Working Lands Initiative passed in 2009 that aids in farmland protection at the
local level. Designation of an AEA helps communities promote the future
viability of existing agricultural and agriculture-related land use. According
to the report, 22 areas have been designated to date, covering 510,000 acres,
and represent a full spectrum of the agricultural profile in Wisconsin. Currently,
61,300 acres are currently enrolled by farmers who have signed an agreement
committing their land to agriculture for a minimum of 15 years and in return
receive a per-acre state income tax credit. “AEAs are critical to help local
governments to further promote farmland preservation and agricultural economic
development in their communities,” Notes Bob Wagner, Senior Policy and Program
Advisor for American Farmland Trust. Since 2008, American Farmland Trust has
actively developed and promoted Wisconsin farmland protection policies and
American Farmland Trust Midwest
Director Accepts Reappointment to Agricultural Statistics Advisory Committee
Baise, Midwest Director for American Farmland Trust, has recently been
reappointed to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Advisory Committee on Agriculture Statistics. In this role, Baise helps to advise the U.S. Secretary of
Agriculture and NASS on the conduct of the agricultural census and surveys,
critical tools in helping to understand the landscape of American agriculture.
“I am pleased to be reappointed by Secretary Vilsack,” said Baise. “U.S. farmers,
agribusinesses and consumers depend on the valuable information gathered
through the various NASS surveys, crop reports and Agricultural Census. NASS
employees work hard to provide accurate and timely information so crucial to
making sound agricultural policy and business decisions.” Congratulations,
October 31 and November 1, American Farmland Trust, Sand County Foundation,
Iowa Soybean Association and The Nature Conservancy convened the third meeting
of leaders involved with water quality projects in the Midwest. Forty-four
leaders from Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois exchanged
information about their USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service Mississippi
River Basin Initiative (MRBI) projects. The group discussed ways to engage
farmers, target efforts and scale up pilot efforts into broader initiatives.
Overall, they identified two trends for project success: completing a watershed
plan with local farmers and using performance-based tools that provide feedback.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer
Protection is offering an opportunity for local communities to boost their
farmland protection efforts. The
Department is seeking petition submissions from communities across the
state to be designated an “agricultural enterprise area.” Through this
designation, the community can encourage continued agricultural production and
investment in the farm economy, as well as open eligibility to farmers in the
area to voluntarily protect their land. Explains Bob Wagner, Senior Policy and
Program Advisor at American Farmland Trust, “Agricultural enterprise areas are
a win-win for Wisconsin communities, supporting the state’s $59 billion
agricultural economy and opening up valuable tools for farmers to preserve its
underlying resource—the land.”
In an important step forward in the implementation of the new Working Lands Initiative, farmers, town officials, planning commission members and others participated in six workshops held during the last week of October and the first week of November. Attendees left with valuable information on topics like changes to the existing Farmland Preservation Program, purchase of agricultural conservation easements; agricultural enterprise areas, and claiming farmland preservation tax credits. Download the workshop schedule and details [PDF].
On June 29, Gov. Jim Doyle signed into law a budget that included the Working Lands Initiative, a measure creating new land preservation tools for Wisconsin farmers. American Farmland Trust and its allies worked tirelessly to promote the initiative which Gov. Doyle stated “encourages the long-term preservation of Wisconsin’s fertile farmlands and supports commitments by farmers to manage their land in an environmentally friendly manner.” What’s more, the final version of the budget struck controversial changes to the tax code that would have weighed heavily on farmers and put working lands across the state in jeopardy.
focus on Wisconsin
Environmentally sustainable foods may be on the top of everyone’s mind these days-- but where do we find them and how do we know that they are eco-friendly? Look to the story of the Wisconsin's own Eco-potato for one answer. Healthy Grown, the eco-potato label, ensures food is grown environmentally consciously. More and more producers are willing to accept the risks and tackle the efforts inherent in changing to environmental farming to qualify for the many certification programs. Some certifications even go beyond regulating chemical use by encouraging farmland protection measures and requiring sales to local markets.
FederAl Farm Policy and The farm bill
What’s in the farm bill and why is it important? Find out what’s next for the farm bill and how we can make sure the legislation's promises are turned into programs on the ground.