American Farmland Trust Submits RCPP Proposals
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.”
Another proposal is led by AFT’s Mid-Atlantic office and will address three resource concerns in the Delaware River Basin. The primary concern is water quality degradation from excess loading of nutrients, sediment and pathogens from agricultural lands that threaten drinking water resources. Additional concerns include forest fragmentation and habitat degradation in upper reaches of the basin; and water quantity concerns as aquifers are over-drafted by irrigation in the lower reaches of the basin.
RCPP was authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill as a new, collaborative approach to conservation that targets resources to areas and issues with the greatest resource challenges. The program also leverages private funding from the $1.2 billion provided by Congress. USDA has established a public and private investment goal of $2.4 billion for conservation through the program.
USDA Announces Funding for Farmers Markets, Local Food, Organics and Specialty Crops
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced this week nearly $170 million in funding to support production and consumer access to fresh, locally produced food.
USDA announced $52 million for continued growth in the organic industry and local and regional food systems through five U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant programs. Most of the grants announced were authorized through the the 2014 Farm Bill, including the Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) Farmers Market Promotion Program and Local Foods Promotion Program, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and Community Food Projects (CFP) grant program. Also announced were grants from AMS’s Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP).
USDA also announced nearly $118 million in grants to strengthen markets for specialty crops, such as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, horticulture and nursery crops. The grants were authorized through the 2014 Farm Bill as part of an effort to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, administered by the AMS, will provide $66 million to state departments of agriculture for projects that help support specialty crop growers, including locally grown fruits and vegetables, through research and programs to increase demand. USDA’s NIFA is also awarding $51.8 million in grants through its Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI). SCRI supports the specialty crop sector by developing and disseminating science-based tools to address the needs of specific crops.
Together, these investments from the 2014 Farm Bill will recruit and train farmers, expand economic opportunities, and increase access to healthy foods by supporting specialty crops, organic crops, and local and regional food systems.
National Farm To School Month Kicks Off
October is National Farm to School Month, a celebration of the connections happening between children and local food! National Farm to School Month is led by the National Farm to School Network (NFSN) and was designated by Congress in 2010 to demonstrate the growing importance of farm to school programs as a means to improve child nutrition, support local economies and educate children about the origins of food. The effort also raises awareness on the importance of protecting and conserving farmland as a vital resource for local and regional food systems.
All month across the country, the celebration will raise awareness about how farm to school can empower children and their families to make informed food choices. NFSN will feature stories on their blog and information in their resource database on additional topics like farm to preschool, school gardens and procurement
Join us in Lexington, Kentucky, October 20-22 – Register today!
Join us in Lexington, Kentucky, October 20-22 for American Farmland Trust’s Farmland, Food and Livable Communities Conference. The event is the premiere national conference weaving farmland protection together with conservation, food systems and next generation issues.
Registration fees increase after October 6 so don’t miss out – Register today!
The conference offers four tracks of workshop sessions on cross-cutting themes. Sessions in the farmland protection track will address impacts of the new Farm Bill on conservation and farmland protection, showcase exemplary community planning, explore effective policies to reduce conversion of arable land, answer “what makes an easement farm-friendly?”, highlight model Purchase of Agricultural Easement programs, introduce promising policy innovations and provide guidance to land trusts who actively want to conserve land for farming and ranching.