American Farmland Trust (AFT) is committed to protecting the nation's best farm land and improving the economic viability of agriculture. AFT works to help local communities understand the economic and environment benefits of keeping farmland in active production, and the unique intersection they can have with the environmental movement.
AFT is seen as one of the national authorities on farmland preservation, and has a strong reputation with both the farm and environmental communities.
Farmland around Puget Sound is rapidly disappearing and continued conversion of farms to urban development poses a very significant threat to the environment, economy, and society of the region. AFT recently launched their Farmland Forever campaign, with the goal to protect 100,000 additional acres of the best farmland in the Puget Sound region over the next five years. The 100,000 additional acres would provide productive farmland for as many as 2,000 farm families and supply healthy local food for our community. It would also mean 100,000 fewer acres of new subdivisions and shopping malls and their adverse impacts of polluted runoff, flooding, and fish and wildlife habitat loss.
Use of Best Practices
AFT uses technical assistance, research and outreach to engage local communities. By educating communities, AFT will show that protecting farmland leads to strong local economy and can help solve many environmental problems. As part of a national organization, they are able to draw on national resources, such as the Farmland Information Center, a clearinghouse for information about farmland protection and stewardship, as well as the collective brain trust of numerous experts working in this area around the country.
In 2011, their office conducted an evaluation of county programs leading to the January 2012 publication of Losing Ground: Farmland Protection in the Puget Sound Region. The evaluation indicates that several counties have exceptionally strong programs but that others need support. AFT has used this information to strengthen their technical assistance efforts to county staff and officials.
Developing strong partnerships in Washington State is a key component of AFT’s Farmland Forever campaign. Currently, AFT is leading and working with a wide range of groups during the project. This coalition includes many conservation and farmland organizations in the region, including PCC Farmland Trust, The Nature Conservancy, The Trust for Public Land, Forterra and the Washington Environmental Council. AFT also plans to engage farmers and farm organizations in the coalition, including the Western Washington Agricultural Association, Northwest Sustainable Food and Farm Network, Tilth, state and local farm bureaus, and local agriculture committees and councils.
They created the Farmland 500, a group of local food and farming advocates in each of the 12 counties around Puget Sound to get involved in local decision-making on farm issues and ensure that a strong pro-farm voice is heard.
Since January 2011, the Pacific Northwest has expanded from one part-time staff to four professional staff plus three interns, while the program budget has grown from less than $100,000 to over $450,000. This increase in capacity has allowed them to continue to focus on using conservation incentives and environmental markets to improve environmental practices on farms while reinvigorating the organization’s commitment to farmland preservation and local food initiatives. In the last 18 months, they have completed an analysis of farmland protection programs in the 12 counties around Puget Sound, undertaken a first-of-its-kind foodshed study in western Washington (in association with the University of Washington and a blue ribbon group of advisors), and recently begun the Farmland Forever campaign, a farmland protection effort in this region.
Grant History with The Seattle Foundation:
Grants Awarded through The Seattle Foundation Grantmaking Program:
$5,000.00||support general operating expenses.|
$10,000.00||support general operating expenses of the Pacific NW Office. |
$10,000.00||support general operating expenses of the Pacific Northwest Field Office.|