In 1969, the Maryland legislature, led by Senator Bill James from Harford County and Senator Jim Clark from Howard County, created Program Open Space. A masterpiece of sensible yet visionary leadership, Program Open Space collects a fraction (1/2 of 1%) of the transfer tax paid when Maryland residents sell a home or piece of property. The money goes into a DEDICATED fund to protect farmland, high-value natural lands, and parks and recreation needs in every county in the state.
The program is beautiful in its simplicity. It keeps pace with state growth and development while it tied together a strong coalition of rural and urban residents, farmers, and conservationists. Program Open Space makes the statement — for some land, the highest and best use is NOT development. Program Open Space is a solemn promise to our children’s children that parks and open land will exist for their children. Over the years, this program gained national renown. Continue reading →
Readers of this column know that AFT played a major role in the 2014 Farm Bill. Our work helped to safeguard the largest federal investment in private lands conservation.
Mandatory Conservation Funding
The Farm Bill eliminated nearly a dozen conservation programs and reduced mandatory funding by $6 billion, a major cut. Despite these reductions, conservation spending is under attack this year from multiple fronts: Continue reading →
It’s that time of the year again, when you and your loved ones pick the perfect tree to decorate and celebrate the Christmas holiday.
This year, like previous years, my friends and I went to select our trees. But unlike years past, this time we decided to cut our own trees instead of buying them at the grocery store. Having worked for American Farmland Trust for close to two years, it was important to me that we spend our money on a local farm. I did some research and found a family-owned farm not too far from Washington, D.C., that grows “cut your own” Christmas trees. Continue reading →
As a soil scientist I’m excited about an international day to celebrate the importance of soil. American Farmland Trust focuses on soil everyday: saving the best soils from poorly planned development, providing access to these soils for the next generation of farmers, and promoting sound farming practices on the soils so they can provide nature’s benefits.
Soils as a natural resource
For too long soils have been the Rodney Dangerfield of natural resources, treated like a second hand resource by environmentalists and conservationists alike. Seems like water, air, and wildlife got all the great press, regulatory protection, love and respect. What about the soil’s ability to provide food? Help create the flavor of a great wine or Juicy peach? To store water and protect against flooding? Continue reading →
AFT Supports Vision for Cover Crops and Soil Health
American Farmland Trust has joined a diverse coalition of agriculture and conservation groups in delivering ”A Common Vision Statement on Cover Crops and Soil Health” to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to urge further work on cover crops and soil health across relevant department agencies and major program areas.
“Cover crops and soil health have been capturing the attention and involvement of farmers and organizations all across the U.S.,” stated the groups. “These practices represent a systems-based approach to enhancing crop production and profitability, protection of soil and water resources, and land stewardship.” Continue reading →
While online registration closes Wednesday, October 15, on-site registrations at the Hilton Lexington Downtown are welcome October 20-22. The bus tours, Saving the Bluegrass and Urban, Bourbon and Brew, are full, but if you would like to be added to our waiting list, contact us at AFTNationaConference@farmland.org.
Yesterday was the deadline for organizations submitting Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) proposals to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). American Farmland Trust is leading two proposals that were submitted. If accepted, the proposals will result in 5-year projects in their respective geographic areas.
One proposal is being led by AFT’s Midwest office and will address water quality degradation from non-point agricultural sources on private lands in Illinois, a primary resource concern for the state and the Mississippi River Basin. The project would be one of the first efforts in the state to begin implementation of the “Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy.” Continue reading →
American Farmland Trust Supports Climate Smart Agriculture Initiative
American Farmland Trust Supports Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture
New partnerships to address climate change were announced this week at the United Nations Climate Summit, including the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture. Held in New York, the U.N. Climate Summit was attended by leaders from around the globe as well as finance, business, civil society and local leaders from public and private sectors. The summit sets the stage for an ambitious global agreement by 2015 that limits the world to a less than 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperature.
One outcome of the summit is the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture. The Alliance is a new effort to promote greater international engagement on ways agriculture can help mitigate the impact of climate change. The Alliance brings together governments, businesses, farmers’ organizations, civil society groups, research bodies and intergovernmental entities to address food security in the face of climate change.
American Farmland Trust is supporting this effort through the North American Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture which was also announced at the U.N. Climate Summit. The three-year North American initiative will give farmers, ranchers and foresters the opportunity to collaborate with industry, academia, government and NGO partners in developing ways to improve production resiliency and mitigate current and future risks of changing climatic conditions. Continue reading →
The House of Representatives and the Senate this week passed a continuing resolution (CR) to fund government agencies through December 11. Because Congress failed to pass any appropriations bills before the end of fiscal year 2014, a CR was necessary to pass to avoid a government shutdown. The CR passed in the House and Senate maintains spending at current levels. Continue reading →
Congress Returns, Readies Continuing Resolution through December 11
As Congress returned this week from August recess, the House of Representatives began the process of approving a continuing resolution (CR) to extend government spending beyond September 30 which marks the end of fiscal year 2014. Government agencies are currently only funded through the end of the fiscal year, so a CR is necessary to avoid a government shutdown. The CR would maintain spending at current levels.
At this point, passage of the CR is expected to be a formality. The House Rules committee was expected to review and approve the CR earlier this week, however that consideration has been postponed until the week of September 15. Approval by the House Rules committee would clear the way for the CR to be considered on the House floor before proceeding to the Senate and finally being signed by the President. Continue reading →