AFT takes a holistic approach to saving farmland, recognizing the powerful connection between the land, good farming practices and the farmers and ranchers who raise the food we eat. The Senate Bill supports farming and farmers by maintaining funding of the Conservation Title and providing new, mandatory baseline funding for programs that assist next-generation farmers such as the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (contained in the Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach Program).
AFT commends the Committee for the program improvements and additional ACEP funding provided in the bill, and looks forward to continuing to work with the Committee throughout the legislative process to provide at least $500 million a year for this critical program that is needed to help slow the rate of farmland loss to development.
“We’re losing farmland at a rate of 175 acres per hour or 3 acres per minute. With ACEP funding at the $500 million level (as is proposed in the House Bill), the Farm Bill gives us a chance to stem the rapid loss of farmland,” urged John Piotti.
“In the next 10 to 15 years, one-third of agricultural land will change hands,” he continued. “When land is permanently protected by an easement it stays in farming. And it’s valued at its agricultural value instead of its development value, making it affordable for the next generation. Without adequate farmland protection we simply won’t have enough farms in the future to feed our growing population. We must act now to save the land that sustains us.”