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Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change: A Down-to-Earth Solution to Global Warming

Regenerative organic agriculture for soil-carbon sequestration is tried and true: Humans have long farmed in that fashion, and there is nothing experimental about it. What is new is the scientific verification of regenerative agricultural practices. Excess carbon in the atmosphere is surely toxic to life, but we are, after all, carbon-based life forms, and returning stable carbon to the soil is a tonic that can support ecological abundance.

Women Non-Operating Landowners: Overcoming Barriers to Increasing Conservation on Leased Farmland Preliminary Report

American Farmland Trust (AFT) and Utah State University (USU) have set out to learn as much as we can about women who own farmland and lease it out (women non-operating landowners or WNOLs). Women tend to be deeply committed to healthy farmland, farm families and farm communities. However, limited research indicates that WNOLs face more gendered barriers than male NOLs to managing their land for long-term sustainability.

Your Guide to FSA Farm Loans

This guide was written for people who need assistance starting, expanding, or owning a farm or ranch. If you are thinking about borrowing money to start or expand your business, it is a good idea to ask yourself several questions before you begin. Before you borrow money, you need to invest time in learning about your options and the procedures to apply for a loan. This guide will help you identify concerns and questions you may have before you start the loan process.

"Agricultural Conservation Easement Program"

The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program is a voluntary program of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.  One of its purposes is to protect agricultural lands by limiting non-agricultural uses. The program was established by the Agricultural Act of 2014, commonly known as the 2014 Farm Bill. NRCS partners with approved state or local units of government, and certain nongovernmental organizations who arrange for the purchase of development rights through conservation easements on private lands. The entity holds and manages these conservation easements in perpetuity.

Cropland Expansion Outpaces Agricultural and Biofuel Policies in the United States

Cultivation of corn and soybeans in the United States reached record high levels following the biofuels boom of the late 2000s. Debate exists about whether the expansion of these crops caused conversion of grasslands and other carbon-rich ecosystems to cropland or instead replaced other crops on existing agricultural land. Researchers tracked crop-specific expansion pathways across the conterminous US and identified the types, amount, and locations of all land converted to and from cropland, 2008–2012.

Community Supported Agriculture: A Model for the Farmer and the Community?

This case study provides an analysis and evaluation of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). To examine CSA as a potentially viable Future Economy Initiative, interviews, a survey, and secondary data sources were utilized. From May 2014 to October 2014 16 in-person semi-structured interviews with CSA farmers were conducted across three counties in Western Massachusetts. A copy of the interview and survey can be found in the appendix.

New England Farm Leasing Tutorial

The tutorial was developed as part of a project called Understanding and Negotiating Leases for New England Farm Entrants.

The goal of this tutorial is to introduce you to the benefits and challenges of leasing. It will explain types of farm leases, and when to use them. It may help you consider, design and negotiate legally sound, written lease agreements.

While this tutorial and the project are intended for aspiring, new and beginning farmers, anyone interested in farm leasing will find useful information in these modules.

Beginning Farmer Talking Points

USDA defines beginning farmers as individuals who have been operating a farm for 10 years or less. The 2012 Census of Agriculture provides information about operators’ experience on their current farm, “years on present farm” and, for the first time, “years operating any farm.” Nationwide, the number of beginning farmers (operators with fewer than 10 years of experience on their present farm) has reached a 30-year low. Just between 2007 and 2012, the number of beginners dropped 20 percent to 469,098.

Soil Loss from Erosion

The 2010 National Resources Inventory (NRI) tracks natural resource conditions and trends on non-federal lands including soil erosion on cropland. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service released the 2010 NRI in September 2013. According to the NRI, in 2010 every state lost soil on cropland due to erosion. Nationwide we lost 1.7 billion tons of soil in 2010.

This handout provides statistics from the NRI compiled by the Farmland Information Center.

Plant the Plate

In 2011, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled a new set of dietary guidelines, dubbed "MyPlate," recommending that fruits and vegetables make up 50 percent of our daily food intake.

But these healthy foods are currently grown on only 2 percent of U.S. farm acres. Furthermore, federal taxpayer dollars are used to subsidize unhealthy, processed foods instead of the fruits and vegetables necessary for a healthy diet.

Healthy Food in Your Community: A Toolkit for Policy Change

Are you worried about access to healthy food in your community and want to take steps to get involved locally, but you are not sure of the best ways to have an impact? If so, this toolkit can help you advocate sensible food policies that prioritize public health and are informed by the best available science. Communities must be a part of the decisions that shape access to healthy, aordable food. With this toolkit, you can join local eorts to make healthy, aordable food a regular part of your—and potentially every—community’s landscape.

Finding Farmland: A Farmer's Guide to Working with Land Trusts

Finding and securing land to farm is one of the biggest challenges that beginning farmers and ranchers face in starting a career in agriculture. Farmland prices are at a record high across the country and land has become increasingly unaffordable for farmers. The land surrounding our nation’s cities, where market opportunities are greatest for beginning farmers, is often the most difficult to access. Thankfully, there are organizations around the country that can help you.

Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems: A Report to Congress

This report provides an overview of local and regional food systems across several dimensions. It details the latest economic information on local food producers, consumers, and policy, relying on findings from several national surveys and a synthesis of recent literature to assess the current size of and recent trends in local and regional food systems. Data are presented on producer characteristics, survival rates and growth, and prices.

Bringing Land Into Production

The presentation in this session of American Farmland Trust's Farmland, Food and Livable Communities discusses the suprising sources of new farmland being discovered across the U.S.. In some parts of the country, residential lots are providing a source of leased land to beginning farmers. In others, land owned by governments, land trusts and developers are a growing source of high quality farmland. What are the issues associated with bringing land into production that has been in another land use or kind of agriculture? Forest to vineyard?

Conservation in the Farm Bill

The presentation in this session of American Farmland Trust's Farmland, Food and Livable Communities Conference examines the consolidation of and changes to conservation programs in the 2014 Farm Bill. How can these programs be even more effective in producing results on the land? Find out how the new law affects voluntary conservation programs like the Conseration Reserve Program (CRP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and learn about the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

Food in the Path of Development Talking Points

This analysis shows the proportion of food production and direct marketing activity generated by farms in the most urban counties. Proximity to people and markets provides opportunities for farmers but also increases the threat of non-farm development and costs of farming.

The Farmland Information Center also created a set of infographics, available as powerpoint slides, to be used with the talking points.

Farm Transfer and Succession Planning

The presentation in this session at American Farmland Trust's Farmland, Food and Livable Communities Conference looks at the most challenging step in farm succession--starting the conversation. This session highlights the need for forethought and how to talk about farm succession within a farm family. It also will explore how to plan for land management, and land and business succession strategies to ensure sound stewardship, economic viability and a smooth transition from one farm owner to another--or one generation to the next.

Women Non-operating Landowners: Overcoming Barriers to Increase Conservation on Leased Land

The presentation in this session from American Farmland Trust's Farmland, Food and Livable Communities Conference address how the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is reaching out to women landowners and recruiting women leadership within NRCS. The session also discusses the growing knowledge around non-operator women farmland owners, their perspectives and their needs.

New Perspectives on the Next Generation of Farm Households

The presentation in this session from American Farmland Trust's Farmland, Food and Livable Communities Conference looks at how a lot of household matters enter in to decisions about whether the farm expands or persists across generations. This session will review the latest research on farm household decision-making and provide a perspective of a local farm family. A special focus will be on how the demands of childcare, eldercare and healthcare affect the family farm.

What to Expect When You're Protecting (or Buying): A Guide to (Agricultural) Conservation Easements

More than 5 million acres of farm and ranch land have been permanently protected through state and local Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easement (PACE) programs, the federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP), land trusts and other entities. The presentation in this session from American Farmland Trust's Farmland, Food and Livable Communities Conference looks at how PACE programs have been vital tools in helping new and established farmers alike gain access to affordable farmland.

Land Access and Securing Affordable Farmland

The presentations in this session from American Farmland Trust's Farmland, Food and Livable Communities Conference discuss access to land, one of the top challenges for beginning as well as established farmers. How can we make farmland more available, affordable, secure, and findable? What tenure innovations should be promoted? Presentations cover new models and methods, and explore the role of landowners, retiring farmers, conservation organizations and communities.

Economic Importance of Agriculture to Local Economies

The presentations in this session from American Farmland Trust's Farmland, Food and Livable Communities Conference examine when food and agricultural markets contribute most to local economic development. This session combines the experiences of an innovative farm owner, local food coordinators in two cities with growing reputations for food culture and downtown renaissance, and academics who quantified economic impacts. Food and agriculture can inspire vibrancy and distinctiveness that enables existing businesses and attracts new ones across many industries.

How Permanent Protection Opens the Door to Farm Ownership

The presentations in this session from American Farmland Trust's Farmland, Food and Livable Communities Conference discuss how public farmland protection programs help farmers gain access to land. Find out about some cutting edge programs including the Delaware Young Farmers Farmland Purchase and Preservation Loan Program, Maryland's Critical Farms Program, Equity Trust''s Hudson Valley Farm Affordability Program, and Massachusetts' Option to Purchase at Ag Value.

Sustainable Farm Leases

The presentations in this session from American Farmland Trust's Farmland, Food and Livable Communities Conference discuss one of the biggest challenges facing agriculture today: access to affordable, productive land.  Young and beginning farmers, in particular, have trouble buying farmland due to lack of capital. Leasing land can provide an affordable alternative for new as well as expanding farm operatons. These presentations cover what makes a good lease agreement and how to assess landowner intentions. Learn about provisions that benefit the farmer, the landowner and the land.

Why Farmers and Environmentalists Need Each Other

Rural America is struggling. Family agriculture is gradually fading, and prime farmland is often converted into environmentally harmful applications. But food cultivation has ecological consequences, too. Farms consume eighty percent of the nation’s water. Although they often prevent sprawling development, improve water quality, or provide wildlife habitat, they also pollute rivers, drain wetlands, or emit destructive greenhouse gasses. The loss of farms and damage to ecosystems are connected, and a major cause is the political deadlock between farmers and environmental activists.

Cultivating the Next Generation: Resources and Policies to Help Beginning Farmers Succeed in Agriculture

Many reasons have been cited for the decline of beginning farmers and ranchers, most notably the high start-up costs and capitalization needed to enter agriculture and the difficulty of securing land to purchase or to rent. To stem this tide, American Farmland Trust (AFT) investigated the challenges and opportunities facing beginning farmers to find out what it takes for them to enter and succeed in agriculture.

Farm Credit

The Farm Credit System is a nationwide network of borrower-owned lending institutions and specialized service organizations. Farm Credit provides more than $199 billion in loans, leases, and related services to farmers, ranchers, rural homeowners, aquatic producers, timber harvesters, agribusinesses, and agricultural and rural utility cooperatives.

Women Caring for the Land: Improving Conservation Outreach to Female Non-Operator Farmland Owners

This manual is intended to give users an overview of the rationale and methodology for targeting outreach to non-operator women landowners, particularly those 65 and older who now control a significant percentage of US farmland. It also provides a number of conservation demonstration activities, which range from very simple to more complex, both in concept and execution.

Federal Rural Development Value-Added Producer Grant Authorization Statute

The primary objective of the Value-Added Producers Grant program is to help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of bio-based value-added products. Generating new products, creating and expanding marketing opportunities, and increasing producer income are the end goals of this program.  Priority is exteded to beginning farmers and ranchers, socially-disadvantaged farmers or ranchers, small or medium-sized family farm and ranch operator and others.  Grants are awarded on a competitive basis. 

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Individual Development Accounts Pilot Program Authorization Statute

The 2008 Farm Bill authorized the Farm Service Agency to administer the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Individual Development Accounts (BFRIDA) Pilot Program.  The program will provide matching grants of up to $250,000 to eligible entities to establish pilot individual development account programs for beginning farmers with limited resources.  Eligible programs must include financial training and matched savings accounts to help beginners save toward the purchase of farm assets.  

Federal Microloan Program Authorization Statute

The Farm Service Agency developed the Microloan program to better serve the unique financial operating needs of beginning, niche and the smallest of family farm operations.  The program offers more flexible access to credit and serves as an attractive loan alternative for smaller farming operations like specialty crop producers and operators of community supported agriculture. These smaller farms, including non-traditional farm operations, often face limited financing options.

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