Our Mission

Protect farmland, promote sound farming practices, and keep farmers on the land.

Our History

American Farmland Trust (AFT) began in 1980 after a small group of farmers and conservationists asked an important question: What will happen to the nation's food supply if we continue to wastefully develop our best farm and ranch land?

Peggy McGrath Rockefeller, the wife of philanthropist David Rockefeller, was one of AFT's founding members. Peggy was a dedicated and accomplished farmer, raising purebred cattle on farms in Maine and upstate New York.

Guided by Rockefeller, noted soil conservationist Norm Berg, California farmer Ralph Grossi, and others, AFT focused in the early years on pioneering programs around the country that use a powerful tool – conservation easements – to make the nation's best farmland off limits to developers.

From the early days, AFT has been a strong advocate for voluntary conservation practices and programs that preserve not just land but also our precious soil and water supplies. In the 35 years since AFT began, we've seen farmland preservation transform into a national movement that has protected well over five million acres nationwide.

Of course, there is much more work to be done. Today, AFT is dedicated to preserving the nation's farm and ranch land – and critical natural resources like soil and water. We also make sure to never forget that it is people – our family farmers and ranchers – who feed us and sustain America.

We are an organization built and supported by our many members and donors. Over the years, your contributions have allowed us to:

  • Sound the alarm about farmland loss with our ground-breaking Farming on the Edge reports and upcoming State of America's Farmland mapping project
  • Establish our nationwide Farmland Information Center, a resource for farmers and communities who need help saving their farm and ranch land
  • Guide passage of a national farmland preservation program in the 1996 Farm Bill
  • Help 27 states and numerous communities authorize programs that permanently protect farm and ranch land from development
  • Transform national farm policy in the 2008 Farm Bill with important wins for conservation, renewable energy, the farm safety net, and local foods
  • Develop more than 50 plans to help communities strategically protect their best farmland and their local food sources
  • Help thousands of farmers reduce their use of fertilizer and highly toxic pesticides
  • Spread our No Farms No Food message on bumper stickers nationwide
  • Launch the nation's first interstate water quality trading project to benefit both farmers and our water

Many more victories await. For farms, food and the environment – and for all of us.

READ OUR STRATEGIC PLAN