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"The Connecticut landowner guide has been one of our most effective tools for developing collaborations with local land trusts, towns and state agencies. As a young land trust, we appreciate American Farmland Trust providing us with this versatile resource."
Elisabeth Moore
Director of Projects
Connecticut Farmland Trust
Projects and Clients
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AFT has more than 25 years of experience saving the best land, planning for the future of agriculture and keeping the land healthy. Our team of experts includes more than 50 staff members with a wide range of professional and academic backgrounds—farmers, lawyers, fiscal and policy experts and land use planners.

The following are some representative clients AFT has worked with:

Planning for Agriculture
Creating Purchase of Development Rights Programs
Education and Outreach
Fiscal Analysis

Planning for Agriculture

Cornell Cooperative Extension Service of Saratoga County: Developed an agricultural and farmland protection plan for Saratoga County, New York. This project included surveys and analyses of agricultural resources; trends in the local economy and development patterns; assessment of the importance of agriculture to the local economy; an exploration of ways to support agricultural development; public education; and policy recommendations.

Ohio Department of Agriculture: Assisted the Ohio Farmland Preservation Task Force in analyzing the causes and consequences of farmland loss in Ohio. Also, helped the task force develop recommendations for improving existing growth management and farmland protection programs and creating new programs.

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy: Working with economic development specialists and agriculture professionals, AFT developed an agricultural economic development strategy for a six-county region of Maryland. The strategy offers an innovative model for communities where commodity-based agriculture and a variety of resource-based enterprises must adapt to globalization and development.

Lake County (Illinois) Board of Supervisors: Developed recommendations for the future of agriculture in Lake County, Illinois, which the county incorporated into its land use plan. The recommendations were based on an AFT analysis of the contribution of the county's agricultural industry to the local economy and AFT-led focus group sessions with farmers to learn how they view the future of farming in the county.

Other Clients:

  • Maine Department of Agriculture
  • Michigan Department of Agriculture
  • Rensselaer County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board, N.Y.
  • Acme Township Board, Mich.
  • Bear River Association of Governments, Utah
  • Town Boards, Brant, Evans and North Collins counties, N.Y.
  • Department of Planning, Genesee County, N.Y.
  • Stanislaus Farmland Trust, Stanislaus County, Calif.
  • Cecil Land Trust, Cecil County, Md.
  • Colorado Cattlemen’s Association

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Creating Purchase of Development Rights Programs

Kane County (Illinois) Board: Analyzed the feasibility of two farmland protection techniques—purchase of development rights (PDR) and fee simple acquisitions—then helped Kane County create the framework for Illinois' first local PDR program. This included developing a strategy to prioritize land for protection and an agricultural conservation easement template.

Beaufort County (South Carolina) Land Preservation Board: Assisted the Beaufort County Land Preservation Board in developing a PDR program for Beaufort County, South Carolina by conducting a workshop on PDR program easement ranking, valuation, monitoring and enforcement, as well as funding and administration.

Grand Traverse and Antrim Counties: Provided technical assistance to two northern Michigan counties, Grand Traverse and Antrim, in developing farmland protection ordinances allowing for the creation of township-level PDR programs in each county. The ordinances also included urban cooperation agreements, allowing the counties to work together to preserve a combined 75,000 acres of farmland.

Boone County (Kentucky) Planning Commission: As part of Boone County, Kentucky's assessment of whether or not to create a PDR program, AFT wrote and presented case studies about successful local PDR programs and recommended which elements of each program would be appropriate for Boone County.

City of New York Department of Environmental Protection: Helped New York's Watershed Agricultural Council negotiate with New York City on the terms of a model agricultural conservation easement.

Other Clients:

  • New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets
  • California Department of Conservation
  • Town of Grafton, Wis.
  • Kentucky Department of Agriculture
  • Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
  • Solano Land Trust, Calif.
  • Bluegrass Conservancy, Fayette-Lexington County, Ky.
  • Santa Clara County Acquisition of Agricultural Conservation Easements Task Force, Santa Clara, Calif.
  • Palmetto Conservation Foundation, S.C.
  • Town Board, Pittsford, N.Y.

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Education and Outreach

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): Conducted train-the-trainer workshops in 28 states for the USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. Helped the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) develop a training program on farmland conversion and protection for NRCS staff. Also for NRCS, created the online Farmland Information Library and the Technical Assistance Service, a staffed information service that educates the public about farmland protection techniques and activities.

Ohio Department of Agriculture: Following the creation of Ohio's statewide PDR program, AFT conducted workshops throughout the state to educate landowners about the economic, environmental and other benefits of PDR and how to enroll in the state program.

Nationwide Provident: Published a book for financial advisors about how to help rural landowners and businesses plan their estates.

National Park Service: Educated growers along a 12-mile section of California's San Joaquin River about riparian buffers.

Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture: In Oklahoma, helped conduct a three-day workshop about data sources used for determining farmland loss; social, environmental and economic reasons to protect land; tools and techniques for conservation; steps to developing effective programs; and more.

Other Clients:

  • National Association of State Departments of Agriculture
  • Soil and Water Conservation Society
  • Farm Bureau: California, Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New York, Vermont, North Carolina and South Carolina
  • Clemson University, S.C.
  • Maintain Our Rural Environment, Shelby County, Ky.
  • Lake County Board of County Commissioners, Fla.
  • Black Swamp Conservancy, Alpha, Ohio
  • Teton Regional Land Trust, Driggs, Idaho
  • Oconee Citizens for Quality Growth, Oconee, Ga.
  • Florida Land Trust Network
  • The Wine Institute, San Francisco, Calif.
  • Hernando County Board of County Commissioners, Fla.
  • The John F. Kennedy School of Government, Boston, Mass.
  • Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Connecticut Agricultural Information Council, Winchester Center, Conn.
  • Georgia Conservancy
  • Tennessee Conservation League

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FIscal Analysis

Skagitonians to Preserve Farmland: Conducted a Cost of Community Services (COCS) study in Skagit County, Wash. AFT collected data on local revenues and expenditures, grouped expenditures and allocated them to specific land use categories, grouped revenues and allocated them to specific land use categories, and calculated revenue-to-expenditure ratios for each land use category. AFT prepared a report that described the methodology, summarized the findings and suggested how to use the findings to promote farmland protection.

Bluegrass Conservancy and Land and Nature Trust of the Bluegrass: Conducted a COCS study in Lexington-Fayette County, Kentucky to help the community build support for creating a PDR program.

Westfield (Massachusetts) Planning Department: Provided technical assistance and guidance to researchers conducting a COCS study for Westfield, Mass.

Other Clients:

  • Calhoun County Farm Bureau, Mich.
  • Culpeper County Board of Supervisors, Va.
  • Friends of the San Juans, Wash.
  • Oldham Ahead, Crestwood, Ky.
  • Tecumseh Land Trust, Mount Vernon, Ohio
  • Frederick County Farm Bureau, Winchester, Va.
  • Monmouth Conservation Foundation, Monmouth County, N.J.
  • Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore, Northampton, Va.
  • Frederick County AgriFuture Roundtable, Frederick County, Md.
  • South Central Assembly for Effective Governance, Pa.
  • Town of Middleboro Planning Board, Mass.
  • Land Stewardship Project, Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Planning and Zoning Commission, Hebron, Conn.
  • Cities of Farmington, Lake Elmo and Independence, Minn.
  • Townships of Beekman and Fishkill, N.Y.
  • Madison Village and Township, Ohio

United States Department of Agriculture: Compiled information about the agricultural industry, land conversion and land protection programs in the states where the agency was holding "listening sessions."

Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife: Compiled information on some of the most successful PDR programs in the nation. The report included details about each program's easement ranking system, funding source, easement evaluation process and regulations for monitoring easements.

Ozaukee Washington (Wisconsin) Land Trust: Prepared an Agricultural Industry Profile for Washington County, Wisconsin to illustrate the importance of agriculture to the local economy. The profile includes graphs about the average size and number of farms, number of agriculture-related businesses, employment impact of agriculture, agricultural industry output, market value of agricultural products sold and the average value of farmland sales per acre.

Farming and the Environment Coalition: For this Washington state-based coalition, researched and wrote a report that includes case studies on, and an analysis of, programs that protect farmland while protecting the environment.

Other Clients:

  • Colorado Office of the Governor
  • Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs
  • Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
  • New England Small Farms Institute, Belchertown, Mass.
  • Madison-Morgan Conservancy, Ga.
  • Peninsula Open Space Trust, Menlo Park, Calif.
  • Wright, Constable and Skeen, LLP, Baltimore, Md.
  • George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
  • Trustees of Reservations, Mass.

Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture: Surveyed landowners who have sold their development rights to the Massachusetts PDR program (called the Agricultural Preservation Restriction Program) to assess the economic and environmental benefits of enrolling in the program.

Culpeper (Virginia) County Board of Supervisors: Conducted a survey of landowners to assess their support for farmland protection.

Union County (Pennsylvania) Board of County Commissioners: Surveyed local farmers and farmland owners to determine their interest in and perception of existing and proposed farmland protection programs in Union County, Pa.

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