The following guest post is by April Moon, a Conservation and Outreach Associate at Connecticut Farmland Trust.
Farmland preservation and why it matters
The United States loses over one acre of farmland every minute.
Just think about that.
Today, less than one fifth of America’s land is classified high-quality; and we need that land, to grow food to feed our country and the world. Despite an ever-growing demand for food, our finest farmland continues to be paved over; converted to parking lots, strip malls, and housing complexes. Put simply: no farmland means no farms, no food.
The Next Generation
While farmland preservation is a primary focus of many organizations, it is equally important to connect new farmers to the land.
For every farmer under the age of 35, there are six over 65. Within the next few years, their land will be up for sale; but will it be sold to a new farmer? Or will its “last crop” be buildings and pavement?
One solution is to place a conservation easement on a farm. The cost of the land is thereby greatly reduced, making it more affordable for young farmers, or farmers who want to expand their business. Either way, this allows us to sustain active family farms across the country.
Do you know about the National Young Farmers Coalition? The NYFC helps mobilize, engage, support and train young farmers and those thinking about farming to ensure their success. It’s wonderful that there are so many young people getting interested in farming, and making a success of it. If you know any young farmers or thinking-about-being-a-farmer types, please direct them to this organization.
What can we do in Connecticut?
Despite densely populated cities, Connecticut is also noted for a successful farmland preservation program thanks to the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and countless private organizations, including Connecticut Farmland Trust.
Connecticut Farmland Trust is the only non-profit organization in our state whose mission is to permanently protect Connecticut’s working lands. Since our founding in 2002, our farmland preservation program has protected over 2,200 acres of prime farmland in our state, and partnered with like-minded organizations to protect an additional 1,000 acres.
And across the country?
For those folks who don’t live in Connecticut, there are similar organizations across the United States that are seeking to protect farmland. The Natural Resource Conservation Service, American Farmland Trust, and U.S. Department of Agriculture all provide helpful information for preservation options in your area.
Local land trusts and even town programs are also dedicated to protecting one of our country’s most valuable resources. Check out the Land Trust Alliance.
Make a difference.
Even if you don’t own a farm, you can make a difference in the land preservation community. Local land trusts often seek volunteers and donations to support their efforts. Take the time to educate your community about the importance of farmers and farmland.
If you do own agricultural land, I would encourage you to learn more about preservation programs in your area. Take the time to protect your legacy and support future generations of farmers.
Let us be sure that our country will always have a safe, sustainable food supply.
Conservation and Outreach Associate
Connecticut Farmland Trust
April’s passion for agriculture began at a young age; she grew up on her family’s small dairy farm in Connecticut and continues to work alongside her parents. Today, their operation includes dairy cows, as well as a beef and vegetable operation.
After graduating from the University of Connecticut (UConn) in 2013, April began to work at Connecticut Farmland Trust to share her love for Connecticut farms. She attends community events to spread the word about the importance of farmland preservation in Connecticut.
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