Tag Archives: No Farms No Food

No Farms, No Food® Rally 2012: Better than Ever!

Farm and food advocates from around New York State laid solid groundwork for legislative funding to protect farmland, and sustain the business of agriculture, at American Farmland Trust’s third annual No Farms, No Food® Rally, held February 15 in Albany.

Our latest Rally brought together more than 100 individuals, representing 70 supporting organizations, and sent a powerful message to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Commissioner of Agriculture Darrel Aubertine, state legislators, and other New Yorkers. That message? We must strengthen our farm and food economy, protect farmland and the environment, and increase access to nutritious food grown in New York. Many participants described the day as “the best No Farms, No Food® Rally yet.”

An Administration Committed to Supporting Farms

2012 No Farms No Food Rally Participants

Jeff Jones, Land Trust Alliance; Janet Thompson, Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust; Fred Huneke, WAC; Stephen Kidd, Urban Garden in Harlem; Terry Wilbur, Oswego County Legislature. photo credit: Dietrich Gehring

Key state leaders underscored their commitment to strengthening New York’s farm and food policy. Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy, along with state agriculture committee chairs Senator Patty Ritchie and Assemblyman Bill Magee, joined us at the Rally and spoke in support of our pro-farm agenda.

Robert Morgenthau, former Manhattan District Attorney and Special Counsel to American Farmland Trust, introduced Lieutenant Governor Duffy. In his opening remarks, Morgenthau, who owns a family farm in Dutchess County, explained the state’s commitment to farmland this way, “There’s bad news and good news. The bad news is that the state doesn’t have a lot of excess money around, and in past years the protection of farmland has not been a priority for the state. The good news is this administration is committed 100 percent to supporting farms.”

Lieutenant Governor Duffy, in his remarks, praised New York State agriculture. “Not only do we have the greatest state in the nation, but we have the greatest agricultural state in the nation. Agriculture is a $4.7 billion industry in the state. That is huge.”

Duffy was emphatic about Governor Cuomo’s support for agriculture. “He gets it, he understands, he listens,” said Duffy. The Lieutenant Governor also spoke of  his own personal interest in visiting farms and talking directly with American Farmland Trust, farmers and other supporters of New York’s farm and food systems, and about ways the state can help farmers build our farm and food economy.

Buy Local

Senator Patty Ritchie, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, told an enthusiastic crowd that “eating local matters.” Ritchie represents one of the largest-dairy producing regions in the state.  It includes Oswego and Jefferson Counties, as well as the western half of St. Lawrence County. Ritchie is working with the state Office of General Services and Governor Cuomo to look for ways to bring more New York-produced food to Albany.

Rally participant Bhavani Jaroff of Long Island, and host of the Progressive Radio Network’s iEat Green, recorded her show from Albany on the day of the Rally.  She stressed to listeners and those in attendance that New York must “allocate enough money to keep farmers from needing to sell their land to developers in order to retire, and to make it possible for them to transition their land to a new generation of farmers.” Jaroff went on to say, “We all need to eat, and if we want access to fresh, local, sustainably raised fruits, vegetables and dairy, we need to support our farmers.”

Building Relationships

It is imperative that the voices of pro-farming, pro-farmland advocates ring throughout Albany in the days immediately ahead, as New York State leaders negotiate a budget and review pieces of legislation key to farming’s future.

Visit our website, to see great photos and media stories about the No Farms, No Food® Rally 2012. We encourage you to share the images and articles on your own websites and through social media to help spread the No Farms, No Food® message!

The deadline for a final state budget is March 30, though Governor Cuomo is shooting to have it completed even sooner.  Be sure to sign up for our email updates, if you haven’t already, and we’ll keep you updated during budget negotiations and as legislation we support makes its way through the legislature.

Last but certainly not least, remember that developing relationships with your elected leaders is critical!  Invite them to your farmers market, CSA or land trust event. Ask them to meet your town board or food co-op or take a tour of your community. They must not ever forget—No Farms, No Food®!


David Haight About the Author: David Haight is New York Director of American Farmland Trust and aids state and federal legislators as they work on agricultural and land conservation legislation. He has helped coordinate projects that have permanently protected more than 4,000 acres of New York farmland.

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Farm and Food News 2/10/12

A Farm and Food Education

At Pine Tree Elementary in Avon, Indiana, students are learning more than reading, writing and arithmetic. The school’s Agri-Lesson Director, Angie Williams, is helping to connect students more directly with farms and food through a monthly “Ag Day” and accompanying lessons on the important role that agriculture plays in the state.

Value-Added Grant Awardees Announced

On February 3, USDA announced the most recent recipients of its Value-Added Producer Grants. The total award amount of $40.2 million is the largest allotment for value-added producers in recent history.

Senate Agriculture Committee Announces Farm Bill Hearings

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, has announced the committee’s farm bill hearing schedule for February and March.

CSA Brings Farm-To-College Connection

Tufts University has partnered with Enterprise Farms of South Deerfield, Massachusetts, to pilot an on-campus Community Supported Agriculture program. Though students have joined local CSAs in the past, this is the first time the university has had a program specifically designed to reach students, faculty and staff.

Rally Around Farms and Food in New York

There is still time to register for New York’s No Farms No Food® Rally on February 15 at the State Capitol in Albany. Help us urge state leaders to strengthen the farm and food economy, protect farmland and the environment and increase access to nutritious food grown in New York.

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New York: A Year of Progress

At year’s end, we often reflect on the many challenges and successes of the past year. In New York, we are thankful for the tremendous impact that farmers, citizens and others have made to support local farming and the production of local food.

Across New York state, a movement is forming. People are coming together who care about jobs and our farm and food economy. They want to make it possible for more New Yorkers to have fresh fruits, vegetables milk and other products grown on local farms. And, New Yorkers are increasingly conscious that we need to stop losing farms to residential and commercial development. Here are a few examples of our work in 2011 as part of this growing No Farms No Food® movement:

New York farm and farmlandTransitioning Farms to the Next Generation of Farmers

Roughly 30 percent of New York’s farmers are over the age of 65—with five times more farmers over the age of 65 than under 35. The transition of farms from one generation to the next—if all doesn’t go smoothly—represents a time of risk when farms are susceptible to being paved over for development. But that period of transition also offers hope for a younger generation looking to farm. In November and December, we focused a spotlight on these issues with forums in the Hudson Valley and Western New York. These events brought together farmers, land trusts, agricultural educators and others to identify the greatest needs and opportunities for aiding senior generations with farm transfer planning and assisting younger generations with securing productive farmland.

Securing Funds to Save Farmland

We organized our second No Farms No Food® Rally at the State Capitol on March 30, bringing together more than 150 New Yorkers and 70 organizations. Together, we met with more than 100 state legislators in support of critical funding needed to protect farmland from development, create farm and food jobs and increase the availability of local foods for all New Yorkers. With this support, Governor Cuomo and state legislators passed the first budget increase for farmland protection in three years and restored funding for a series of farm programs that were on the verge of being eliminated.

Working with Communities to Support Local Farms and Stop the Loss of Farmland

In 2011, we released Planning for Agriculture in New York: A Toolkit for Towns and Counties to help planners, citizens and local officials take proactive steps to keep farms thriving in their communities. The new guide highlights 80 communities that have taken action through agricultural economic development programs, food and public policies, zoning and land use planning, purchase of development rights, public education and more. After releasing the new guide, we held a six-session webinar series highlighting chapters of the new publication that attracted almost 300 people from New York and other states.

Helping Farmers Protect Clean Water Across New York

For more than two decades, American Farmland Trust has worked with farmers to continue their legacy of environmental stewardship in New York. In 2011, we worked with farmers, landowners, conservation professionals and others to develop the Owasco Lake Agricultural Conservation Blueprint to help farmers enhance water quality in the lake while ensuring thriving farms. In addition, we kicked off a significant project in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County that will help sweet corn growers alter their fertilizer practices in order to reduce pollution in Long Island Sound.

A Look Ahead

The urgency for American Farmland Trust’s work in New York has never been greater.  Our society needs the jobs that will come from a stronger farm and food system. At the same time, the urgent need for protection of natural resources, including soil and water, is tremendous. In the year ahead, we hope that you will join the movement in responding to these challenges. Each of us can play a role, whether by shopping at a farmers market, serving on a town planning board or protecting your own farmland. All of these steps matter. Remember, “No Farms, No Food!”


David Haight About the Author: David Haight is New York Director of American Farmland Trust and aids state and federal legislators as they work on agricultural and land conservation legislation. He has helped coordinate projects that have permanently protected more than 4,000 acres of New York farmland.

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Rallying Around Our Farms and Food

National attention to concerns about food security, access to locally grown foods, and public health issues has never been higher and this focus is bringing together a diverse group of supporters with a shared energy to protect our farms and food. Farmers, ranchers, chefs, soup kitchen volunteers, environmentalists, urban gardeners, town officials, and local food advocates are agreeing on one thing: we must have local farms if we want to have local food.

Farms also remain critical to our economy. In New York, the state’s 30,000 farms sell more than $4.5 billion annually –milk, fruits, vegetables, meat, flowers, plants and so much more. Also, farms buy much of the goods and services they need to survive from other local businesses. Frequently overlooked is the network of connections between farms and thousands of New Yorkers employed at hardware stores, banks, farm equipment dealers and other enterprises that support local farms and food.

When you add together the businesses that sell goods and services to farmers, farm jobs and food processing companies, these enterprises generate a combined $30 billion a year in economic activity in just New York. With New York City residents alone spending more than $30 billion a year on food, the potential remains for growth in businesses involved in and connected to agriculture in the state.

This economic growth, however, is dependent on the viability of our working lands. Tragically, the United States continues to lose its valuable farmland to subdivisions, strip malls and other scattered development. Between 1982 and 2007 the nation lost more than 23,000,000 acres of farmland, an area the size of Indiana.

In New York, we have decided to channel the energy surrounding farm and food and work collectively to bring these issues to our state legislators.  People from across the state will be converging at the Capitol in Albany for our annual No Farms No Food® Rally and Lobby Day on March 30. Together, we will tell our elected officials that they must take action to stem the loss of farms that threatens our economy and food security.

The No Farms No Food® Rally and Lobby Day is in response to the urgent situation we face. New York’s remaining farmland is capable of feeding only 6 million of the state’s population of 19 million—that’s just 30 percent. What’s more, nationally, 91 percent of our fruits, nuts and berries, and 78 percent of our vegetables and melons are produced on land immediately outside of our cities—the very regions in the most danger of being consumed by urban sprawl. We simply can’t afford to lose another acre of farmland in this country.

Get involved and make a difference! If you live in New York,  attend our No Farms No Food® Rally and Lobby Day. In any state, share your concern about farmland loss by contacting your federal, state and local officials and make sure they know you support local agriculture and want farmland protected.


About the Author: David Haight is New York Director of American Farmland Trust and aids state and federal legislators as they work on agricultural and land conservation legislation. He has helped coordinate projects that have permanently protected more than 4,000 acres of New York farmland.

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Pick Up the Mantle for Farms, Farmland and Farmers Markets

When we say, “America has been losing more than an acre per minute of farmland,” what does that mean for you?

Let’s imagine that everyone in the U.S. was equally responsible for saving the land that sustains us. According to the last Census of Agriculture, there are about 922 million acres of land in farms. If we evenly divide responsibility with your fellow 308 million Americans, what is your slice to protect? Just over 3 acres of land. At the rate we have been losing farmland—your acres could have been developed in the time it took you to read this post!

You may not own a farm or be a farmer, but as an eater you depend on farm and ranch land for every meal. The good news is that there are many ways that you can make smart choices as a consumer and as an advocate to protect your “three acres” and beyond. This summer, American Farmland Trust is calling on you to help others make the connection between the fresh local food you buy at farmers markets and the local farms and farmland that supply them. “No Farms No Food®” is our mantra, which applies to the farms and ranches that sustain you wherever you live— after all, there is no local food without local farms and farmland!

Where to begin? Let’s start with the most delicious form of advocacy around—promoting the delights of your local farmers market. Yesterday, Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack released an official proclamation declaring August 1st – August 7th as “National Farmers Market Week.” Farmers markets play a vital role in keeping farmers on the land. They help keep farms viable, which is an essential way to save the land that sustains us. As we head into National Farmers Market Week, lets take advantage of the peak of the summer to support farms and farmers markets by participating in the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest.

Will you be our grassroots presence on-the-ground? The America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest is a national outreach campaign, but we need your help to spread the word about farmers markets in your state. Let’s work together to make a big impact in every state by getting your fellow farmers market enthusiasts, local media, and local governments excited about promoting the farmers markets in your state. Check out the current Top 5 Favorite Farmers Markets in your state and use our tools for spreading the word!

About the Author: Gretchen Hoffman is Manager of Engagement and Communications at American Farmland Trust.  She can be reached at ghoffman@farmland.org

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Farmland and Food: Re-Connected

There was a time when talking about the actual growing of food  as a reason to protect farmland from sprawling development garnered little attention.  To be sure it was always on the list, but values such as wildlife habitat, scenic views, open space and cultural heritage often energized support for protecting farmland much more than any interest in food production.  Chalk it up to the disconnect between what we eat and where it comes from – or perhaps living in a land of plenty, where on average we pay the lowest percentage of family income on food in the world.  Whatever the reason, food production often played second fiddle to the other benefits provided by farm and ranch land.

But things have certainly changed in recent years.  Top-of-mind issues like reducing carbon footprints, hedging against high gasoline prices and promoting healthy food choices among others, have all contributed to an encouraging explosion of interest in local food. This newfound interest has more people making the connection between food (local or otherwise) and the necessity of farmland protection.

A recent No Farms, No Food Rally in New York is emblematic of the wide ranging groups and organizations coming together on common issues around farmland and food.  Organized by AFT to lobby against short-sighted state budget cuts to important farmland protection, conservation, and nutrition programs, the rally attracted farmer organizations, land trusts, farmers market advocates, environmental groups, food co-ops, anti-hunger programs, faith-based community groups and rural community advocates, all coalescing around the relationship between consumers, communities, farmers, food, the environment and the farmland that ties it all together.

On Earth Day, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission released a Local Food Assessment and Plan for Central Ohio with the subtitle, “A strategy for strengthening the economy, ensuring access to healthful food, reducing food-shipping distance, and preserving farmland.”

Similarly, AFT’s Growing Local Initiative works to connect the interest in local foods with the farms, communities and farmland essential to meeting this demand.

The importance of the inextricable link between food and farmland protection was again underscored last week with the release of the 2007 NRI data showing that more than 23 million acres of agricultural land were lost to development between 1982 and 2007.  That’s millions of acres no longer growing the food needed to feed our families, protecting habitat for our wildlife, sequestering carbon and contributing to our rural communities.

Just as consumers are connecting more and more with their food and the farmers who produce it, reconnecting food to farmland is a positive development.

About the author: Bob Wagner celebrates his 25th year at American Farmland Trust in 2010.  He has worked in the field of farmland protection since 1981. In his current position, Wagner helps states and local communities nationwide build support for and create policies to protect agricultural land. He can be reached at bwagner@farmland.org

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