Rivers, streams and lakes are threatened across America. Well-managed farms and ranches offer one of the best solutions to tackling this issue.

Water quality is at risk in iconic waterways across America, from the Puget Sound in the Northwest to New York's Long Island Sound.

The pollution comes from many sources. Industrial smokestacks. Waste treatment plants. Urban run-off.

Pesticides and plant nutrients – mainly nitrogen and phosphorus – also wash off farm fields into waterways, where they can cause problems like algae blooms and dead zones.

While run-off from agricultural fields plays a major role in the problem, many farmers are enthusiastic partners in the fight to keep our water clean.

That's why American Farmland Trust is working hand-in-hand with farmers and ranchers on common sense solutions that benefit the environment – and us all.

Why are farms and ranches so important to water quality?

What are the challenges?

AFT's Role

American Farmland Trust is a trusted partner working with farmers and conservationists on positive solutions that protect both land and water.

And we never lose sight of the farmers themselves – who need viable ways to help the environment that don't threaten their ability to stay in business.

Our pioneering BMP Challenge, for instance, demonstrated to farmers that less might be more when it comes to fertilizer. Farmers in the program typically apply less fertilizer without losing crops – and they save money as a result.

Our water quality projects are models for how farmers and ranchers around the country can save land and water – on a large scale.


  • Conducts research that sheds light on the barriers that keep farmers from trying new conservation practices
  • Promotes practices that build up the soil and improve its productivity
  • Works to link farm subsidies to environmental stewardship in the federal Farm Bill
  • Establishes multi-region water quality trading markets with the potential for dramatic improvements in water quality
  • Protects wildlife habitat, farmland and water quality through innovative programs like Pioneers in Conservation in the Pacific Northwest