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Market Forces: Creating Jobs Through Public Investment in Local and Regional Food Systems

This report shows that local and regional food systems could expand further, with the potential for creating tens of thousands of jobs in rural communities—many of which are struggling economically—and in urban communities as well. Overall, the expansion of local and regional food systems could complement the nation’s existing mechanisms for food production, distribution, and consumption. Greater investment in local and regional food systems would thus be an essential step for agriculture policies that seek to support such economic activity.

The Landowner's Guide to Sustainable Farm Leasing

This guide briefly presents the economic, social, and ecologic benefits of sustainable agriculture, though it is not the intent of the guide to persuade landowners of a particular set of values or to promote a specific manner of farming. As will be discussed in Chapter One, there are a variety of ways to farm sustainably, and a truly sustainable lease must fulfill the concerns and needs of landowner and tenant.

Planning to Eat: Innovative Local Governments Plans and Policies to Build Healthy Food Systems in the United States

A growing number of local governments across the United States are rebuilding food systems1 through innovative public policy. Local governments are using plans, regulatory tools, fiscal incentives, and institutional mechanisms to strengthen food systems. These public policy tools are being developed and implemented by different levels of local governments, including cities, counties, and regional governments.

This policy brief includes a synthesis of recent best practices of local government policy and planning designed to strengthen community food systems.

Planning for Food and Agriculture: Taking a Systems Approach - State and Regional Planning

This is one of two webinars as part of a series hosted by American Farmland Trust -- Planning for Agriculture and Food:Taking a Systems Approach.

State and Regional Planning, November 15
Presenters include Alison Hastings, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC); Brian Williams, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC); and Erica Campbell, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VJSF).

Reducing Community Food Insecurity: A Review of Options

This brief reviews two options that come under the category of direct government involvement. Within this category, the type of involvement can vary from legislation mandating certain performance to prohibitory or restrictive policies. This paper will look at one of each that has recently been used in two cities in an attempt to improve the food insecurity issue in their respective communities. The first section will review the recently enacted Minneapolis ordinance that requires certain grocery stores to carry a minimum selection of perishable food items.

Local Agricultural Preservation: Making the Food System Connection

This begins by setting the context for the local food movement and its relationship to planning and economic development, showing why local food is important and why its economic importance has been undervalued in the past. The article then describes measures that planners, local officials, and citizens can take to overcome this lack of understanding and appreciation to help promote local small-scale agriculture and the many benefits it offers.

Agricultural Conservation: A Guide to Programs

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Farm Service Agency (FSA) in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) currently administer over 20 programs and subprograms that are directly or indirectly available to assist producers and landowners who wish to practice conservation on agricultural lands. The number, scope, and overall funding of these programs has grown in recent years. This growth can cause some confusion over which problems and conditions each program addresses, and specific program characteristics and performance.

Grassland Reserve Program

The Partnership of Rangeland Trusts (PORT) and American Farmland Trust's Farmland Information Center co-hosted an informational webinar with Liz Crane, Acting FRPP/HFRP Program Manager, Barbara Eggers, Acting GRP Program Manager, and Mike Beam, Executive Director, Ranchland Trust of Kansas, on the GRP Final Rule, program highlights and current status.

Regional Food Hubs: Understanding the Scope and Scale of Food Hub Operations - Preliminary Findings from a National Survey of Regional Food Hubs

In partnership with the National Association of Produce Market Managers, the Wallace Center at Winrock International, and the Project for Public Spaces, the USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Subcommittee on Food Hubs has identified over 100 operational food hubs in the country and has conducted in depth analysis of over 70 operational food hubs. Preliminary survey results of this research indicate:

Farmland By The Numbers

You may have noticed a change in your own community over the past few decades. Traffic that slows to a crawl, along congested roads, past McMansions sprouting from former farm fields. It wasn’t always like this, but over the past 30 years much of America’s most fertile farmland has been lost to wasteful development.

Guide to Environmental Markets For Farmers and Ranchers

This guide presents farmers and ranchers with a straight-up view of environmental markets: what they are, how they work and which ones can be most useful in helping to support agricultural operations. Most active farms and ranches preserve and generate environmental benefits. An environmental market makes it possible to buy and sell credits for environmental activities such as restoring wetlands, improving water quality or storing carbon.

Cost of Community Services Studies

Cost of Community Services (COCS) studies are a case study approach used to determine the fiscal contribution of existing local land uses. A subset of the much larger field of fiscal analysis, COCS studies have emerged as an inexpensive and reliable tool to measure direct fiscal relationships. Their particular niche is to evaluate working and open lands on equal ground with residential, commercial and industrial land uses.

Small Farms in the United States: Persistence Under Pressure

Ninety-one percent of U.S. farms are classified as small—gross cash farm income (GCFI) of less than $250,000. About 60 percent of these small farms are very small, generating GCFI of less than $10,000. These very small noncommercial farms, in some respects, exist independently of the farm economy because their operators rely heavily on off-farm income. The remaining small farms—small commercial farms—account for most small-farm production.

Comparing the Structure, Size, and Performance of Local and Mainstream Food Supply Chains

A series of coordinated case studies compares the structure, size, and performance of local food supply chains with those of mainstream supply chains. Interviews and site visits with farms and businesses, supplemented with secondary data, describe how food moves from farms to consumers in 15 food supply chains. Key comparisons between supply chains include the degree of product differentiation, diversification of marketing outlets, and information conveyed to consumers about product origin.

Prioritizing Farmland Preservation Cost-Effectively for Multiple Objectives

American society derives many benefits from farmland and is often willing to pay to preserve it from urbanization. We present an innovative framework to support farmland preservation programs in prioritizing conservation investments. The framework considers the full range of social benefits of farmland and improves the application of decision analysis methods to the process.

Smart Growth for Coastal and Waterfront Communities

This guide begins with an overview of some of the challenges and opportunities that communities along the water face. Ten sections follow, one for each of the smart growth coastal and waterfront elements. Each section begins with a description of what smart growth looks like and how it may be applied differently along the water—and then offers examples, tools, and techniques for implementing smart growth approaches. The guide includes regulatory approaches as well as voluntary, incentive-based tools.

Getting to Smart Growth II: 100 More Policies for Implementation

Getting to Smart Growth II picks up where the first volume left off. Like its predecessor, this volume shows that a wide variety of smart growth tools, policies, and approaches are available to create more livable communities. Each community has its own unique set of challenges, and smart growth demands a flexible response. Volumes I and II offer a menu of options that can be mixed and matched to fit local circumstances, local visions, and local values.

Beyond the USDA: How Other Government Agenices Can Support a Healther, More Sustainable Food System

USDA is not the only federal body influencing what, and how, food is raised and consumed in the United States: many other spheres of governance shape our food system in significant, and sometimes surprising, ways. This report details opportunities for change—and funding—in government agencies other than the USDA that can help create a healthier, more sustainable food system.

"Organic Food Production Act"

The Organic Food Production Act establishes national standards governing the marketing of certain agricultural products as organically produced products; assures consumers that organically produced products meet a consistent standard; and facilitates interstate commerce in fresh and processed food that is organically produced.

Possible Implications for U.S. Agriculture From Adoption of Select Dietary Guidelines

To help Americans meet nutritional requirements while staying within caloric recommendations, the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole-grain products, and fat- free or low-fat milk or milk products. This report provides one view of the potential implications for U.S. agriculture if Americans changed their current consumption patterns to meet some of those guidelines.

Hybrid Farmland Protection Programs: A New Paradigm for Growth Management?

Growth management has once again become a cause celebre. And, more than ever, one of the central challenges of growth management is to protect vital natural resources from development. Chief among these vital resources are the nation‘s farmlands. They supply our food; provide environmental amenities like scenic open space, wildlife habitat and unpaved watersheds; and demand few public services.

Farm Business and Household Expenditure Patterns and Local Communities: Evidence from a National Survey

Farm operators are an integral part of some rural economies. The businesses they operate
support jobs and purchase goods and services from local implement and input suppliers.
Farm household spending on food, furniture and appliances, trucks and automobiles, and
a range of consumer goods also supports local jobs and retail businesses. Based on the
2004 Agricultural Resource Management Survey, the linkages between farm household
and business expenditures and communities are explored. Farms in urban areas purchase

Land Conservation and Property Taxes in Vermont

What is the impact on local property taxes when someone permanently conserves their land? Do taxes increase, decrease, or stay the same? Does it matter if the land is conserved by a conservation easement or if it is purchased by a government entity? In response to these and other questions from landowners, members, town officials, and assessors, the Vermont Land Trust (VLT) asked Deb Brighton, VLT Board of Trustees member and legislative tax policy consultant, to analyze the short- and long-term impacts of land conservation on Vermont property taxes.

Local Food Systems: Concepts, Impacts, and Issues

This comprehensive overview of local food systems explores alternative definitions of local food, estimates market size and reach, describes the characteristics of local consumers and producers, and examines early indications of the economic and health impacts of local food systems. There is no consensus on a definition of “local” or “local food systems” in terms of the geographic distance between production and consumption. But defining “local” based on marketing arrangements, such as farmers selling directly to consumers at regional farmers’ markets or to schools, is well recognized.

Strategic Targeting of Agricultural Conservation Easements as a Growth Management Tool

Public and private programs have preserved an estimated 730,000 ha of agricultural land in the United States by acquiring agricultural conservation easements (ACEs) that retire a property’s development rights. ACEs could be a potent tool for smart growth if strategically targeted. This paper attempts to quantify measures of strategic targeting of ACEs as guidance for planners. Evaluating the placement of 157 ACEs in the San Francisco Bay Area of California produced mixed results. Preservation and development of agricultural land were both consistent with general plans.

Smart Growth: Implications for Agriculture in Urban Fringe Areas

The last two decades have witnessed increased state-level involvement in growth management to counter the negative impacts of land development. Recently, several states have begun shifting from state-imposed requirements for local compliance with state planning goals toward incentive-based, voluntary mechanisms known as “smart growth” strategies. Although still in their infancy, smart growth strategies are becoming increasingly widespread, with implications for agriculture in urban fringe areas.

Land Use Changes: Economic, Social and Environmental Impacts

Major land-use changes have occurred in the United States during the past 25 years. The total area of cropland, pastureland and rangeland decreased by 76 million acres in the contiguous 48 states from 1982 to 2003, while the total area of developed land increased by 36 million acres or 48% (see Figure 1). The pace of urban development increased dramatically during the period, from 1.4 million acres a year between 1982 and 1992 to 2.2 million acres a year between 1992 and 2003.

Land Preservation: An Essential Ingredient in Smart Growth

The preservation of land for working rural landscapes, wildlife habitat, urban parks, recreational trails, and protecting water supplies and floodplains is emerging as an integral component of smart growth programs. Both the general public and non-profit organizations have been willing to spend billions of dollars on land preservation because of a perception that traditional land use planning and regulation are not successfully accommodating growth or protecting valuable natural resources.

Agricultural Sustainability and Smart Growth: Saving Urban-Influenced Farmland

The sustainability of American agriculture begins with the land. Farmland closest to our cities and towns is among the nation’s most productive and important for a variety of economic, environmental and aesthetic reasons. The sustainability of the nation’s agriculture is being progressively compromised as this land is lost to sprawling development. The rate of farmland loss is accelerating as public policies exaggerate the competitive edge that development has over agriculture. Federal farm policy, in particular, does little to help farmers in urban-influenced areas.

Getting to Smart Growth: 100 Policies for Implementation

Getting to Smart Growth: 100 Policies for Implementation aims to support communities that have recognized the value and importance of smart growth, and now seek to implement it. It does so by highlighting and describing techniques to help policymakers put the ten smart growth principles into practice. The policies and guidelines presented in this primer have proven successful in communities across the U.S., and range from formal legislative or regulatory efforts to informal approaches, plans, and programs.

Choosing Our Community's Future: A Citizen's Guide to Getting the Most Out of New Development

This publication is intended as a quick-start guide to help citizens get up to speed on the terms, procedures and key issues in development. This effort is motivated by one central belief: The surest way to create neighborhoods, towns and metropolitan regions worthy of passing on to our children is to engage the full, informed participation of the people who live in them. It is our hope that, by leveling the playing field for citizens even a little bit, we can help make planning and development more collaborative and less adversarial.

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