Location: Washington, DC

American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement, and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms, No Food message. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.5 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on millions of additional acres, and supported thousands of farm families. Long a pioneering leader, AFT is now riding a new wave of growth, driven by agriculture’s most pressing needs and opportunities. 

AFT has historically played an outsized role in the development of agricultural policy. At the federal level, AFT was the force behind the Farmland Protection Policy Act of 1981. In 1985, AFT led the effort that incorporated a Conservation Title into the Farm Bill. AFT has played a substantive role in the creation of CRP, EQIP, FRPP, ACEP, and other federal conservation programs. AFT has also worked actively on other titles of the Farm Bill, and on other federal issues, including tax policies impacting farmers and ranchers. At the state level, AFT had a direct role in the creation of 29 farmland protection programs and numerous current use taxation programs—and has successfully championed a wide range of legislation that has supported farmland retention, farmland access, farm viability, and more. 

AFT’s policy work benefits from AFT’s research efforts, which have often been a catalyst for policy change. At the same time, AFT’s policy work is grounded in diverse programming delivered through both national initiatives and six regional offices. This provides AFT with a real world understanding of what’s needed and what works. Beyond this, AFT’s policy work is buoyed by the organization’s reputation as a trusted convener, respected by both the agriculture and the conservation communities.

With the 2018 Farm Bill now passed, AFT is set to gear-up a multiyear strategy aimed at advancing significant policy changes.  This strategy will certainly include a direct focus on the next Farm Bill and other federal policy initiatives; but in addition, AFT’s multi-pronged approach will involve pursuing an active research agenda that can ultimately serve policy goals, advancing new state-level policies through which innovative approaches can be tested and refined, and engaging and ultimately organizing key stakeholders across the nation. 

AFT believes that there exists at this time an opportunity to advance the national dialogue about agriculture in key areas where AFT has expertise and programming, including issues that address the interplay of agriculture and climate change, and issues involving farmland loss and land succession.

To respond to this collection of needs and opportunities, AFT is creating a new position of Policy Director. To fill this position, AFT seeks a highly motivated and strategic individual capable of developing and implementing detailed plans to shape agricultural policy, and eager to advance a storied organization poised to write its next chapter. 

The Policy Director reports directly to AFT’s President. This position is based at AFT’s National Office in Washington, DC.

Duties & Responsibilities

The Policy Director’s primary responsibilities are to: 

  • Develop (in concert with AFT’s President, and with AFT’s board where appropriate) AFT’s overall policy direction and strategies; and oversee the implementation of those strategies.
  • Coordinate all of AFT’s federal policy work and all relevant state policy work through direct management of policy staff and by collaborating closely with AFT’s two Vice Presidents of Programs, national initiative leaders, and regional directors, as needed and appropriate. 
  • Work closely with AFT’s research team to help develop research plans and utilize research results that advance sound agricultural policy.
  • Work closely with AFT’s communications team to enhance AFT’s reputation as a thought leader and increase media exposure in order to advance sound agricultural policy.

In addition, the Policy Director will be required to: 

  • Manage and mentor policy staff effectively. 
  • Manage AFT’s relationships with any consultants and contractors assisting policy work.  
  • Present AFT’s positions to government officials, other organizations, the media, and the public.
  • Establish and maintain relationships with lawmakers, agency officials, and other influencers to shape policy making at the national and state levels. 
  • Establish and maintain relationships with various organizational partners and coalitions. 
  • Build AFT’s profile as a leader in agricultural policy.
  • Work with other AFT staff to integrate and align AFT’s policy work with other key AFT functions. 
  • Support AFT’s President and Development Department in securing funding for policy work. 
  • Undertake efficiently the administrative tasks necessary for a management position.
  • Other duties as assigned.


The Policy Director must be smart, creative, flexible, analytical, highly organized, highly motivated, and highly strategic. The Policy Director must have knowledge of agriculture, conservation and other subjects pertaining to AFT’s mission. The Policy Director must possess the experience and instincts that will enable her or him to excel in a politically-charged environment. 

In addition, the Policy Director must possess the following: 

  • A BA or BS degree (ideally in a relevant field) and a minimum of 8 years of work experience in public policy involving agriculture, farmland protection, land conservation, or natural resource planning. 
  • At least 3 years prior experience in a leadership position that involved developing and implementing policy strategies, including the supervision of staff. 
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • A collaborative, entrepreneurial, and innovative approach.  
  • An ability to deliver high quality work quickly in a dynamic organization under time pressure.
  • An ability to travel as needed. 


Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience and background. Full and generous benefits package. 

If you are eager to join our team, please visit this page to apply.

Please include a cover letter with resume for consideration.

American Farmland Trust provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, American Farmland Trust complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment in every location in which the organization has facilities. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation and training.