From a speech given at the annual meeting of the Colorado Association of Soil Conservation Districts in Denver, Colorado.
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.
U.S. farmland managed under organic farming systems expanded rapidly throughout the 1990s, and that pace has continued as farmers strive to meet consumer demand in both local and national markets. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) implemented national organic standards on organic production and processing in October 2002, following more than a decade of development, and the new uniform standards are expected to facilitate further growth in the organic farm sector. USDAs organic standards incorporate an ecological approach to farming, cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, ecological balance, and protection of biodiversity. An increasing number of U.S. farmers are adopting these systems in order to lower input costs, conserve nonrenewable resources, capture high-value markets, and boost farm income. This report updates USDA estimates of land farmed with organic practices during 1997 with estimates for 2000 and 2001, and provides new estimates on the number of certified organic operations in each State.
Many of New York's local governments are implementing strategies to review solar installations within their community by updating their comprehensive plan and adopting zoning requirements for the siting, installation, and decommissioning of large-scale solar arrays. To protect productive farmland, municipalities should consider siting the non-farm solar energy projects on less productive land. There is a distinction between farm-related solar systems, and solar systems built on agricultural land that primarily serve off-site uses.
This CAE working paper is the first in a series of four case studies which seek to better understand how and why farmland preservation works or fails. Coordinated case studies have been undertaken in two counties in Wisconsin and two counties in Illinois. The farmland in Waukesha County, immediately west of Milwaukee in east central Wisconsin and McHenry County, to the north of the greater Chicago area, are experiencing tremendous pressure from urban sprawl. In contrast, Dane County in Wisconsin and DeKalb County in llinois are away from the urban fringe but beginning to feel the effects of housing demands for long distance commuters.
In this paper, the authors analyze the current situation in Waukesha County, concluding that future for agriculture in this county looks bleak. Planning, zoning and special tax laws have failed to protect prime agricultural land. With the lure of profits from selling to developers, operators of both profitable and non-profitable farms have pushed for zoning ordinances and land use plans that allow the development of agricultural lands. Agriculture can still be saved in Waukesha County but it will require public and private partnerships between farmers and the non-farming community. Although most residents now feel that total development of the county is inevitable, the preservation or conversion of farmland occurs because of a community's policies, practices and attitudes.
Previous studies of the value of open space in other states indicate strong willingness to pay (WTP) for farmland preservation in urbanizing areas.
From a speech given at the National Conference on Sediment Control in Washington, DC.
Despite the fact that rural communities have the most to gain and lose in matters involving economic development and environmental preservation, they often are given the least voice in the political processes that create policies in these areas. Agendas are set, policies formulated and implemented by policy-makers, administrators, and practitioners in urban areas. These outside policies may not be consistent with how rural communities view the tradeoffs between the environment and the economy. We call for decentralization of economic and environmental policy. It is understood, however, that such an approach may involve risk. What if rural-based policy-makers and practitioners are, for instance, aggressively anti-environmental and pro- economic growth? Using results from a national sample of rural development officials, this study examines the environmental and economic development attitudes of development officials based on a population continuum. The findings suggest that rural-based development officials often have a greater appreciation of rural environmental quality of life features compared to their urban counterparts. The implications of the findings are detailed and suggestions for future research are provided.
We may have become an urban nation, but we remain an agricultural land. Nearly 70 percent of the United States, exclusive of Alaska, is held in private ownership by millions of individuals. Fifty percent of the United States, 907 million acres, is cropland, pastureland and rangeland owned and managed by farmers and ranchers. The responsibility for stewardship of the land lies in the hands of about 4.7 million individuals. This means that the care of 50 percent of the United States is in the hands of less than 2 percent of its citizens (USDA, Dec. 1996, p. 7). The extent and importance of agriculture in the United States means that it is impossible to accurately assess the health of the land without a special focus on agriculture.
From a speech given at the USDA Midwestern Regional Workshop on Land Use in Indianapolis, Indiana.
From a speech given at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Conference on Farmland Preservation at the University of Maryland.
The Kentucky Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easements (PACE) program was established by state legislation in 1994. Since the beginning of the program, over 15.5 million dollars have been spent to purchase the agricultural conservation easements of 78 farms totaling over 17,000 acres. An additional 19 agricultural conservation easements with over 3,000 acres have been donated to the PACE program.
In the fall of 2004, a survey of all PACE participants was conducted to determine how funds from the PACE program have been spent by the landowners in the program. There were a total of 90 different landowners who had participated in the PACE program. A mail questionnaire was sent to each of the 90 participating landowners. A total of 82 questionnaires were returned, for a response rate of 91 percent.
Land preservation has long been a goal of Maryland. To slow the disappearance of agricultural, forest, and other natural lands, Maryland has developed a variety of land preservation programs. Maryland has been consistently a leader among states in these efforts. As a further demonstration of its commitment to agricultural and forest land preservation, on April 7, 2002, the Maryland General Assembly approved Senate Joint Resolution 10. This resolution set a goal of preserving triple the amount of land currently in preservation status, or approximately 686,000 acres, by the year 2022. This is approximately 34,300 acres per year.
In the 25 years that agricultural and other preservation programs have existed in Maryland, the state and county programs have preserved approximately 343,000 acres. Thus, achieving the goal of preserving twice that amount or 686,000 more acres in just 20 years may prove difficult unless sufficient resources are allocated to achieve the target. In addition, if the programs have managed to purchase easements on the “easiest” to enroll parcels, then policymakers will need to reexamine eligibility criteria and determine what further steps must be taken in order to attract the remaining eligible lands.
A well-designed Land Evaluation and Site Assessment (LESA) system can help public officials, with limited funds, acquire development rights to build a "critical mass" of preserved farmland.
Purchase of development rights (PDR) programs are used by several state governments in the northeast to prevent the conversion of farmland to nonagricultural uses. With few exceptions, public funding for purchasing development rights to farmland continues to be approved by state legislatures and by public referenda in states that have PDR programs. The costs of these programs are significant and amount to millions of dollars that are transferred from the general public to individuals who own farmland. Despite the significant public expenditure, no studies have identified specifically what motivates the public to preserve farmland.
The identification and measurement of public preferences for public goods is a difficult task that often involves costly surveys and specialized analytical skills that may not be available in public agencies. One alternative to collecting primary data for analysis of farmland preservation issues is analyzing secondary data from public referenda used to approve PDR funding in some states. The analysis of referenda data, together with other secondary census data, offers an affordable method for identifying possible relationships among social characteristics and public support for PDR funding. While such analysis cannot replace the value of primary data, it provides a first step toward understanding specific motivations for PDR programs.
Conservation easements are coming under increased scrutiny from Congress and the Internal Revenue Service. Pressure is intensifying on easement holders to guarantee monitoring and enforcement of easements in perpetuity.
Against this backdrop, AFT convened a roundtable meeting on March 21, 2005, with support from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to examine easement stewardship programs around the country. Land trust representatives, NRCS staff, local and state farmland protection program representatives and Land Trust Alliance (LTA) staff attended the meeting. A follow-up session based on the roundtable discussion is planned for the 2005 LTA Rally. The following white papers, which describe participants' easement stewardship programs, are available on the FIC Web site:
1. Reducing the Cost of Conservation Easement Stewardship by Engaging Landowners in Easement Compliance Self-Certification – Land Trust of Virginia
2. Conservation Easement Stewardship Program – Minnesota Land Trust
3. Easement Stewardship for Landscape Scale Conservation Easements – Legacy Partners, LLC
4. Vermont Land Trust Stewardship Systems
5. Easement Stewardship Systems – Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust
6. Easement Stewardship – Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Foundation
7. Comprehensive Stewardship in the Upper Snake River Valley – Teton Regional Land Trust