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 →
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 →
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 →
Note—American Farmland Trust’s Farm Policy Roundup will not be published next week in observance of the Labor Day holiday. The next edition will be published on Friday, September 5.
American Farmland Trust Conference Is Just Around the Corner, Don’t Miss Out!
Did you know American Farmland Trust’s National Farmland, Food and Livable Communities conference in Lexington, KY begins in less than two months? We have an exciting line up of workshops in store for you that will explore important topics ranging from farmland protection policy and community food security to farmland succession and the next generation of farmers.
And keynote speakers will share their experiences and expertise on compelling issues in farming and food. Just this week, conference keynote speaker and photographer Jim Richardson was featured discussing his work in National Geographic’s Proof series. Hear his discussion and have a preview of just part of what is in store for you. Don’t delay–early-bird registration ends September 1.
Join American Farmland Trust and more than 70 local and national leaders to network, strategize and share best practices to support family farmers, protect farmland and strengthen community food systems. Keynote, plenary and workshop sessions are organized around four cross-cutting themes:
Conserving Farmland and Growing Smart
Supporting Agriculture and Community Food Security
Helping the Next Generation Succeed in Agriculture
Promoting Farmland Succession and Access to Land
Join us in Lexington to craft next steps to advance your work in these areas and to enjoy Kentucky’s famous hospitality. Other conference highlights include two bus tours: Urban, Bourbon & Brew and Saving the Bluegrass, a Kentucky Proud reception and Farm Fresh banquet.
At the end of July on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, American Farmland Trust (AFT) convened a small group of women farm owners to share experiences with each other, expand their knowledge of conservation, and learn about innovative practices being tested by the University of Maryland.
With record numbers of women taking over ownership of farms across the country, AFT hosts these women’s learning circles in the Mid-West and now in the Mid-Atlantic. “Women landowners are committed conservationists,” said Jim Baird, the Mid-Atlantic regional director for AFT. “We want to provide a comfortable place where women, many of whom are new landowners, can come together to ask questions about conservation, and how they can get assistance.” Continue reading →
U.S. Department of Agriculture Announces RCPP Projects for Full Proposals
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced that 230 projects will be invited to submit full proposals for program funding under the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). American Farmland Trust is leading or supporting 5 projects in multiple states which are eligible for a full proposal. Continue reading →
Congress enters its final week of legislative session on July 28 before entering a month-long recess August 1. While key votes have been taken in recent weeks to approve multiple appropriations bills and to extend important tax provisions, it appears unlikely that further Congressional action will occur this summer.
This week, Congressional leaders announced intent to pass a short term funding bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), through mid-November, to keep the federal government operational into fiscal year 2015 (FY15). The FY15 Agriculture Appropriations bill has not been considered on the floor of either chamber. The House voted last week to permanently extend important charitable and conservation tax incentives, including the Enhanced Conservation Easement Deduction, however it is unlikely the Senate will consider tax extenders until November. Continue reading →