Land devoted to farming in the 14 counties belonging to western Washington decreased by 16% between 1982-1992 despite farmland protection strategies due to pressure from population, regulatory and socioeconomic forces. The region, which is undergoing rapid urbanization, is home to small-sized farm operations which sell produce to earn additional income. At present, however, the percentage of farmers who own their land have dropped while the average age of farmers has increased from 51 years in 1978 to 54 years in 1992.
Welcome to the literature area of the FIC Web site. Here you will find a collection of articles, books, fact sheets and technical memos, reports and studies related to saving farm and ranch land and supporting agriculture. You can filter by state, topic and/or type of document ("category"). Use the Search feature to conduct a more refined search.
In late 1993, American Farmland Trust initiated the Agricultural Conservation Alternatives project in preparation for the 1995 Farm Bill. Eighteen agricultural leaders reviewed 25 existing and proposed programs for the farm bill that addressed environmental issues facing agriculture. The ACA working group identified nine ideas worthy of further analysis:
Green Ticket Certification Program: GTC would set environmental and resource conservation performance standards for farms to meet in order to qualify for certain benefits. It could prove to be an effective but somewhat expensive approach.
Conservation Credit Initiative: CCI offers property tax credits to farmers who voluntarily agree to implement conservation plans. The program has been successfully tested in several counties in Wisconsin and is considered a "potential bargain."
Environmental Stewardship Incentive Program: ESIP offers three levels of payments to farmers based on the complexity and completeness of implemented conservation plans. Proposed by the Illinois Corn Growers and Illinois Farm Bureau, ESIP is in the concept stage.
Water Quality Incentives Program: WQIP was authorized in the 1990 Farm Bill and offers per-acre incentives and technical assistance to farmers to develop and implement multi-year water quality protection plans. It has not lived up to its potential.
Integrated Farm Management Program: IFM was also authorized in the 1990 Farm Bill to encourage feed grain farmers to plant resource conserving crops. Participation has been dismal.
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education: SARE, authorized in the 1985 Farm Bill, introduced a unique funding and research structure to directly involve farmers in research on sustainable farming systems. SARE has not yet reached its full potential.
Environmental Reserve - Rural Land Trust: ER-RLT is a new concept that would combine the many separate conservation and land retirement programs into a unified program to allow both short-term and long-term environmental goals to be addressed.
Revenue Insurance/Assurance: Two similar guaranteed revenue programs could potentially replace current farm programs. Both programs could significantly reduce the costs of current programs but may be politically unfeasible.
Inter-farm Transfer of Acreage Conservation Reserve Acres: Analogous to trading pollution credits in the industrial sector, this idea would encourage the inter-farm transfer of acreage conservation reserve acres to advance conservation objectives.
The findings of the white papers and the ACA working group recommendations set the framework for a new generation of agricultural resource conservation and farm support programs. The findings of the white papers and the ACA working group recommendations set the framework for a new generation of agricultural resource conservation and farm support programs.
The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) is a voluntary federal conservation program implemented by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that protects agricultural land and conserves wetlands. The program has two enrollment options: Agricultural Land Easements (ALE) and Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE). ACEP–ALE provides matching funds to eligible entities to buy conservation easements on farm and ranch land. This fact sheet provides information about ACEP–ALE implementation and final allocations to states by fiscal year.
A conservation easement is a deed restriction landowners voluntarily place on their property to protect resources such as productive agricultural land, ground and surface water, wildlife habitat, historic sites or scenic views. They are used by landowners (“grantors”) to authorize a qualified conservation organization or public agency (“grantee”) to monitor and enforce the restrictions set forth in the agreement. This fact sheet provides basic information about agricultural conservation easements.
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.
This tabular presentation provides basic information introducing each of the programs. In each case, a brief program description is followed by information on major amendments in the 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-246); national scope and availability; states with the greatest participation; the backlog of applications or other measures of continuing interest; program funding authority; FY2011 funding; the FY2012 Administration budget request; statutory authority; the authorization expiration date; and a link to the program’s website.
Agricultural district programs allow farmers to form special areas where commercial agriculture is encouraged and protected. Programs are authorized by state legislatures and implemented at the local level. Enrollment in agricultural districts is voluntary. In exchange for enrollment, farmers receive a package of benefits, which varies from state to state. Minimum acreage requirements and initial terms of enrollment also vary. Agricultural district programs should not be confused with zoning districts that delineate areas governed by local land use regulations. This fact sheet provides basic information about Agricultural District Programs.
A review of conservation programs in the state shows that agricultural easements are concentrated in central coastal counties. Many of these counties, such as Marin and Sonoma, are not top agricultural regions, while some of the state’s most productive agricultural counties have no easement programs at all. To date, there are approximately 120,000 California farmland acres in easements, nearly 80% of them grazing land and the rest in crops. Our review shows that state coastal conservation programs and sentiments among local populations are major reasons why easements are plentiful in some counties and not in others.
The Hudson River Valley represents an economic mix of industrial, commercial, recreational and residential uses. Agriculture is an important economic and cultural component within this patchwork of uses. During the last forty years however, agriculture has undergone a slow transition caused in part by development radiating from nearby metropolitan centers such as Albany and New York City. The result is a fundamentally different agricultural economy serving a very different community base. In recent years, the noticeable effect of this transition has caused many to question the future of agriculture in the valley. American Farmland Trust commissioned Agricultural and Community Development Services to conduct an assessment of agricultural economic development conditions in the valley. The study aimed to understand how current local conditions impact agriculture, and how those forces may affect the future of agriculture. Agricultural and Community Development Services was further commissioned to translate the results of the assessment into a series of structural and programmatic recommendations that will improve agriculture’s integration with the broader economy while supporting overall industry development.
This white paper underscores why there is growing consensus that minimizing the future urbanization of agricultural lands and providing long-term protection for these lands are important, if not essential, to achieving California’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.
The purpose of this curriculum is to provide a structured approach for students and teachers in both academic and non-academic settings to study agricultural land tenure, and explore tenure alternatives and successful farm tenancy.
There are two modules. The first examines farm and ranch tenure, including less traditional approaches to address contemporary land acquisition challenges. Module Two focuses on tenancy and landlord-tenant relationships.
Each module has four topics. Each module suggests classroom and individual activities, discussion questions and guest speakers. Each module is linked to case studies, and lists print and online resources and references.
We investigate the influence of future land development on current agricultural land values. From a theoretical model of land markets, we derive a reduced-form expression for agricultural land values in terms of observable variables. This result dictates the specification of our econometric model and we find strong support for the model in an application to New York State. The estimated model, together with a spatial interpolation algorithm, is used to generate a surface of estimated development rights values for Orange County. This approach overcomes several problems that arise with the use of standard appraisal methods to value conservation easements.