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Building a Future with Farmers: Challenges Faced by Young, American Farmers and a National Strategy to Help Them Succeed

Drawing on a survey of over 1,000 farmers in the national network of the National Young Farmers' Coalition, this report presents a vision of policy change and achievable recommendations that will help the next generation of American farmers thrive.

Planning for Food Access and Community-based Food Systems: A National Scan and Evaluation of Local Comprehensive and Sustainability Plans

With support from the Healthy Eating Research program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, APA’s Planning and Community Health Research Center conducted a multiphase research study to identify and evaluate the development, adoption and implementation of food related goals and policies of local comprehensive plans, including sustainability plans, across the United States; and their impact on local policies, regulations, and standards for the purpose of reducing food access disparities among children, adolescents, and adults, and improving community-based food systems.

Residential Construction Trends in America's Metropolitan Regions: 2012 Edition

Across the United States, many urban, suburban, and even rural neighborhoods are experiencing dramatic transformations. Parking lots, underused commercial properties, and former industrial sites are being replaced by condominiums, apartments, townhouses, and small-lot single-family homes. These examples of residential infill—or building new homes in previously developed areas—can help to expand housing choices, make neighborhoods livelier, increase the tax base, safeguard rural landscapes, reduce infrastructure costs, and protect natural resources.

A Nationwide Survey of Land Trusts that Protect Farm and Ranch Land

Private land trusts play an increasingly important role in farm and ranch land protection. However, it can be difficult for landowners to identify land trusts interested in protecting agricultural land for agriculture, especially in states not served by public farmland protection programs. With support from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), American Farmland Trust conducted a nationwide survey of private land trusts to identify organizations that actively protect farm and ranch land for agriculture, and to quantify the amount of agricultural land they have protected.

The National Public Opinion Poll

American Farmland Trust and Northern Illinois University conducted research that involves two separate survey instruments targeted at different populations. The first survey instrument, the National Public Opinion Poll, seeks to determine how American voters feel about agriculture and about farm support payments. The survey includes 72 questions and we contacted 2,213 voters between June 2 and July 26, 2001.

Food Security Learning Center

The Food Security Learning Center (FSLC) is a web-based clearinghouse, covering topics on community food security, nutrition, federal food programs, race and the food system, the link between climate change and food production and more. Resouces include research, policy, model program profiles, articles, links and ways to get involved.

School Food FOCUS

School Food FOCUS is a national collaborative that leverages the knowledge and procurement power of large school districts to make school meals nationwide more healthful, regionally sourced, and sustainably produced.

Land Stewardship Project

The Land Stewardship Project (LSP) is a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1982 to foster an ethic of stewardship for farmland, to promote sustainable agriculture and to develop sustainable communities. LSP is dedicated to creating transformational change in our food and farming system. LSP's work has a broad and deep impact, from new farmer training and local organizing, to federal policy and community based food systems development. At the core of all our work are the values of stewardship, justice and democracy.

Planners Web

The PlannersWeb site provides articles and postings on a wide range of planning issues, as well as a focus on how citizen planners — especially members of planning commissions and boards — can work most effectively.

Equity Trust

Equity Trust is a small, national non-profit organization that helps communities gain ownership interests in land and other local resources. They also work with people to make economic changes that balance the needs of individuals with the needs of the community, the earth, and future generations.

Center for Rural Affairs

The mission of the Center for Rural Affairs is to establish strong rural communities, social and economic justice, environmental stewardship, and genuine opportunity for all while engaging people in decisions that affect the quality of their lives and the future of their communities. 

National Association of Counties

The National Association of Counties (NACo) is the only national organization that represents county governments in the United States. Founded in 1935, NACo provides essential services to the nation’s 3,068 counties. NACo advances issues with a unified voice before the federal government, improves the public’s understanding of county government, assists counties in finding and sharing innovative solutions through education and research, and provides value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money. 

USDA Farm Service Agency

The Farm Service Agency's (FSA) responsibilities are organized into five areas: Farm Programs, Farm Loans, Commodity Operations, Management and State Operations. The agency continues to provide America's farmers with a strong safety net through the administration of farm commodity programs. FSA also implements ad hoc disaster programs. FSA's long-standing tradition of conserving the nation's natural resources continues through the Conservation Reserve Program. The agency provides credit to agricultural producers who are unable to receive private, commercial credit.

Smart Growth Network

The Smart Growth Network works to encourage development that serves the economy, community and the environment. It is a forum for:

  •     Raising public awareness of how growth can improve community quality of life;
  •     Promoting smart growth best practices;
  •     Developing and sharing information, innovative policies, tools and ideas;
  •     Cultivating strategies to address barriers to and advance opportunities for smart growth.

Sustainable Communities Online

Sustainable Communities Online is the newly revised, updated, and redesigned website formerly known as the Sustainable Communities Network (SCN) website which was developed by a broad coalition of organizations around the United States in the mid-1990s. The intent of the SCN was to pool information on sustainability to make it more readily accessible to the public. CONCERN, Inc. and the Community Sustainability Resource Institute managed the SCN from 1993–2001 and CONCERN has managed it since then.

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

The Leopold Center is a research and education center on the campus of Iowa State University created to identify and reduce negative environmental and social impacts of farming and develop new ways to farm profitably while conserving natural resources. The Center's work is focused in these initiatives - ecological systems research, marketing and food systems research, policy research and cross-cutting research that bridges all areas (water, energy, soil and alternative farming systems).

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Originally established by Congress in 1935 as the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has expanded to become a conservation leader for all natural resources, ensuring private lands are conserved, restored, and more resilient to environmental challenges, like climate change.

Seventy percent of the land in the United States is privately owned, making stewardship by private landowners absolutely critical to the health of our Nation’s environment.

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy is a leading resource for key issues concerning the use, regulation, and taxation of land. Providing high-quality education and research, the Institute strives to improve public dialogue and decisions about land policy. As a private operating foundation whose origins date to 1946, the Institute seeks to inform decision making through education, research, policy evaluation, demonstration projects, and the dissemination of information, policy analysis, and data through our publications, Web site, and other media.

Local Government Commission

 The Local Government Commission assists local governments in establishing and nurturing the key elements of livable communities:

  •     a healthier human and natural environment,
  •     a more sustainable economy,
  •     an actively engaged populace, and
  •     an equitable society.

LGC assists local governments in developing and implementing policies and programs that help establish these key elements by:

Land Trust Alliance

The Land Trust Alliance (LTA) promotes voluntary private land conservation to benefit communities and natural systems.  LTA is the national convener, strategist and representative of more than 1,700 land trusts across America.

American Planning Association

The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities by advocating excellence in community planning, promoting education and citizen empowerment, and providing the tools and support necessary to meet the challenges of growth and change.

National Association of Conservation Districts

The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) is the nonprofit organization that represents America’s 3,000 conservation districts and the 17,000 men and women who serve on their governing boards. Conservation districts are local units of government established under state law to carry out natural resource management programs at the local level. Districts work with millions of cooperating landowners and operators to help them manage and protect land and water resources on all private lands and many public lands in the United States.

Agriculture of the Middle

This national initiative seeks to renew what is being called the “agriculture-of-the-middle.” This term refers to a disappearing sector of mid-scale farms/ranches and related agrifood enterprises that are unable to successfully market bulk commodities or sell food directly to consumers.

FoodRoutes Network

The FoodRoutes Network, LLC (FRN) provides communications tools, technical support, networking and information resources to organizations nationwide that are working to rebuild local, community-based food systems. FRN is dedicated to reintroducing Americans to their food – the seeds it grows from, the farmers who produce it, and the routes that carry it from the fields to their tables.

US Forest Service

The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. As stewards of the environment, the Forest Service is committed to efficiently using energy and reducing consumption of resources in our daily operations.

American Farmland Trust

American Farmland Trust is committed to protecting the nation's farm and ranch land, keeping it healthy and improving the economic viability of agriculture. AFT's staff of farmers, policy experts, researchers and scientists knows the issues from the ground up — how communities can be strengthened by protecting farmland and supporting local farmers, and how farmers and ranchers can best be engaged to conserve the land and protect our natural resources.

The Food Trust

The Food Trust strives to make healthy food available to all. Working with neighborhoods, schools, grocers, farmers and policymakers, they have developed a comprehensive approach that combines nutrition education and greater availability of affordable, healthy food.

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute

The Michael Fields Agricultural Institute is a non-profit organization with the mission to nurture the ecological, social and economic resiliency of food and farming systems through education, research, policy, and market development.

They envision an ever-creative cultural process in which farmers and consumers create agricultural landscapes with healthy regional systems of land use, food production and distribution.

Trust for Public Land

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come.

TPL was founded in 1972 with goals of protecting land in and around cities and pioneering new land conservation techniques. Over the years, their work expanded to include projects from inner city to wilderness, and their broad experience has made them a national leader and innovator in city park creation, state and local conservation funding, and using GIS for conservation planning.

Alternative Farming Systems Information Center

The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC) is part of the USDA National Agricultural Library (NAL) and focuses on topics related to sustainable and alternative agricultural systems, crops and livestock. They work to implement the NAL mission of "advancing access to global information for agriculture."

AFSIC specializes in library services - locating, accessing, organizing and distributing information - related to many aspects of alternative agriculture. Topics include:

Chef's Collaborative

Chefs Collaborative is the leading nonprofit network of chefs that’s changing the sustainable food landscape using the power of connections, education and responsible buying decisions.

The Chefs Collaborative works to:

  •     Cultivate a vibrant community to develop and share best practices.
  •     Provide educational and informational resources to the professional food service and culinary community.
  •     Build a strong membership base of hundreds of members across the country.


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