Photo courtesy of American Farmland Trust.
American Farmland Trust
In the late 1970s, the Fund began to examine the new risks posed to food-producing resources by escalating fuel costs, fertilizers and agrichemicals, and the encroachment of suburban development. By the early 1980s, the United States was losing 12 square miles of rural land each day. After funding a feasibility study through the Conservation Foundation, in 1980 the Fund helped establish the American Farmland Trust (AFT), the first national, nonprofit institution committed exclusively to the conservation of agricultural resources. With the Fund’s support and guidance, AFT began a multi-pronged program of research, education, demonstration, and public policy work. It advised farmers on establishing easements, worked with the government to promote tax incentives, and, with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, proposed changes in national soil conservation policy. As the Trust has grown, it has broadened its activities to include facilitating donations to save family farms and promoting alternative energy sources and organic substitutes for agrichemicals.