As recent farm bills shift more toward conservation spending and other programs, the historically rooted and highly funded commodity programs receive an increasing amount of criticism. Since 1933, when they were introduced in the first farm bill, commodity programs have worked to stabilize the market and provide farmers with fair prices. Their function has not changed over the years. The government generally has used three different mechanisms for supporting farmers through commodity programs: control supply, fix prices, or pay the difference between market and a fair price. The mechanism of support has drifted more toward the government paying the difference. The formulas to determine a farmer’s payments and the payment limitations show that the government is required to increase its spending in order to continue adequately supporting farmers. The price for commodities has fallen below the cost of production, and farmers have come to rely on the government’s support. As commodity programs are re-evaluated, the whole system around these programs also needs to be considered.
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.
This publication examines how the federal Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program has strengthened four unique communities across the country by assisting locally initiated farm and ranch land protection efforts.
The executive summary provides a condensed verion of the comprehensive evaluation of farmland protection programs, Protecting Farm Land: A Guidebook for State and Local Governments. It is the fourth publication in the series of twelve reports produced as part of seminal National Agricultural Lands Study.
Food is vital to the health and well-being of all New Yorkers. Producing food is a critical part of the state’s economy, and expanding access to fresh, healthy food is essential to solving major public health problems in our state.
Individuals and families buy and grow food to consume in their homes, but many New Yorkers are also fed by institutions such as schools, hospitals, universities, childcare centers, prisons, senior centers and food pantries. The term ‘public plate’ describes the aggregate of all the food purchased with public dollars administered by New York State (NYS) and served in institutions.
As a strategy, farm to institution procurement leverages public spending to promote economic development, environmental sustainability and health.
Through its agencies and public facilities, New York State spends more than $957 million to feed approximately 6.6 million people annually. Most people who share the state’s “public plate” use the emergency food system and K-12 schools.
Increasing local food purchasing from its estimated baseline of 10% to 25% of public plate dollars has the potential to improve the diets and health of 6.6 million New Yorkers and generate almost $208 million in new economic output in NYS. Achieving this goal would first require government leaders and institutional food buyers to adopt the goal of spending at least 25% of their food budgets on fresh and minimally processed food grown in New York.
There are no standard definitions of what constitutes "local" food amidst a burgeoning local food promotion and policy-development movement. Nonetheless, government policies are rapidly evolving to promote local food production. For most states, anything produced or processed in-state is considered local. In other instances, a 250 or even a 500 mile perimeter constitutes an acceptable boundary justifying a local food territory for policy making purposes or purchasing preferences. The absence of clean definitions of what constitures local food as well as the ostensible regional economic gains to be expected from local food promotion and increased production have led to a common situation in U.S. rural development initiatives: substantive policy initiatives pre-date validating research.
This paper looks at practical limits to local foods production and consumption in the Upper Midwest. It presumes that local foods production makes the most sense, and has the greatest profit potential, in relatively close proximity to dense urban demand. The research demonstrates methods for determining county-level fresh fruit and vegetable production potentials for the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Iowa in light of the distribution of metropolitan areas with 250,000 residents or more within or nearby the region. It also estimates the farm production-related total economic values that would accumulate were local foods production goals achieved in the region using input-output modeling tools. A state-only analysis was also conducted for Iowa using smaller metropolitan areas and a shorter viable distance-to-market threshold to apply the larger study's insights in a manner that might guide state-level decision making. The research can be useful for helping to inform state policy developments as well as the location and extent of Cooperative Extension and other types of state and local services and production assistance designed to bolster or further investigate this emerging rural development topic.
Conservation easements are the primary land preservation tool in Colorado, accounting for more than two-thirds of all conserved land in the state. The Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT) has partnered with The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and other conservation organizations to determine the economic value of Colorado’s conservation easements. Researchers found that $595 million investment in conservation easements returned $3.51 billion in public benefits. A return of $6 for every $1 invested.
Sales of locally produced foods comprise a small but growing part of U.S. agricultural sales. USDA estimates that farm-level value of local food sales totaled about $4.8 billion in 2008, or about 1.6% of the U.S. market for agricultural products. An estimated total of 107,000 farms are engaged in local food systems, or about 5% of all U.S. farms.
There is no established definition of what constitutes a “local food.” Local and regional food systems generally refer to agricultural production and marketing that occurs within a certain
geographic proximity (between farmer and consumer) or that involves certain social or supply chain characteristics in producing food (such as small family farms, urban gardens, or farms using
sustainable agriculture practices). Some perceive locally sourced foods as fresher and higher in quality compared to some other readily available foods, and also believe that purchasing local
foods helps support local farm economies and/or farmers that use certain production practices that are perceived to be more environmentally sustainable.
A wide range of farm businesses may be considered to be engaged in local foods. These include direct-to-consumer marketing, farmers’ markets, farm-to-school programs, community-supported agriculture, community gardens, school gardens, food hubs and market aggregators, and kitchen incubators and mobile slaughter units. Other types of operations include on-farm sales/stores, internet marketing, food cooperatives and buying clubs, pick-your-own or “U-Pick” operations, roadside farm stands, urban farms (and rooftop farms and gardens), community kitchens, smallscale food processing and decentralized root cellars, and some agritourism or other types of onfarm recreational activities.
The 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-246, Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008) contained a few program provisions that directly support local and regional food systems. However, many farm
bill-related programs benefiting agricultural producers may provide support and assistance for such food systems. These include federal farm support and grant programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which may be grouped into several broad program categories: marketing and promotion; business assistance; rural and community development; nutrition and education; agricultural research and cooperative extension; and farmland conservation. Examples include USDA’s farmers’ market programs, rural cooperative grants, and selected child nutrition programs, among myriad other grant and loan programs, as well as USDA’s research and cooperative extension service.
Although the farm bill currently contains few specific programs that directly support local and regional food systems, many community and farm advocacy groups have been arguing that such food systems should play a larger policy role within the next farm bill, and that laws should be modified to reflect broader, more equitable policies across a range of production systems, including local food systems. The 112th Congress will likely consider reauthorization of the 2008 farm bill, and may debate options for providing additional support for local and regional
producers. To date, a number of bills have been introduced, including comprehensive marker bills, that would expand the benefits for local and regional food systems.
Rural population growth in the form of residential development frequently results in the loss of agricultural productive land as well as loss of adjacent open space that often characterizes rural communities. A land-use prediction model was used to determine what influence the USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) may have on urban sprawl and rural community sustainability. The model demonstrated that the projected mean rural residential growth rate was almost half the growth rate with CRP as compared to without CRP in the local land management mix. In addition, ecosystem integrity on the land surrounding a rural community was sharply increased with the introduction of CRP. However, community economics and subsequent social character of the community may have been significantly impacted by CRP. In order to partially mitigate CRP-induced community impacts we propose future CRP guidelines support the establishment of within-production field scale ecological refuges. These refuges would satisfy the conservation requirements of the program, return a level of traditional agricultural production to the land management mix, and provide the adjacent community with aesthetic and recreational amenities that are frequently associated with modern rural economies.
Over the last several years, natural resource researchers and managers are using new computer modeling tools to understand the role that protecting tree canopy plays in protecting water quality. What they have found is that trees and the canopy that their leaves create are important to protecting water quality, even if the trees are not next to a lake, river or stream. Trees and forests serve watersheds by preventing erosion, filtering contaminants before they enter a waterway, absorbing rainfall and snow melt, recharging aquifers, and slowing storm water runoff.