For decades, American Farmland Trust has been in the thick of the agricultural conservation movement, and to help amplify the efforts moving forward, the nonprofit has launched the Farming is Our Future initiative, which aims to elevate the approaches AFT has developed over decades, to increase the scale of its impacts. and to make this necessary difference now — while there is still time. The goals will include reducing the rate of farmland loss by 75 percent while also decreasing carbon emissions by 650 million metric tons annually and increasing the number of beginning farmers to the highest level in 50 years.
“Relentless farmland loss to development, the impacts of climate change and the challenges associated with the pending transfer of huge numbers of farms and ranches to a new generation, each pose immediate threats to agriculture as we know it, and to every eater’s way of life,” said John Piotti, president and CEO of American Farmland Trust. “The current pandemic has also shown us glimpses of how great innovation, perseverance and resiliency play out in our food system — and we’ve seen many people appreciate and value the security of good food, farms and the environmental services they provide in a new way. This is heartening, but we can, and must, do more to meet the existential challenges we’re facing head on.”
In AFT’s first-ever state-by-state analysis of policies that respond to the development threats to farmland and ranchland, the organization highlighted that every state can, and must, do more to protect their irreplaceable agricultural resources. Millions of acres of America’s agricultural land were developed or converted to uses that threaten farming between 2001 and 2016, according to “Farms Under Threat: The State of the States.”
AFT says it has the tools to protect irreplaceable farmland and ranchland but that they must be applied them at a much larger scale. Science shows that agriculture currently contributes to our climate crisis, but we also know that through better practices, farming “done right” can be a climate mitigator and help to heal the earth. And with the right support, all farmers and ranchers can overcome barriers to land access and find ways to make a sustainable living stewarding the land.