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“Funding for Ag Land Protection Up



(NAFB)--According to the annual American Farmland Trust survey of state farm and ranch land protection programs - while funding increased 19-percent from 2011 to 2012 - funding levels are still 39-percent below where they were in 2008. AFT President and CEO Andrew McElwaine says state budget cuts have hit agricultural land protection programs hard in the last five years. But he says the significant increase in funding from 2011 to 2012 shows a number of states have put a priority on protecting farmland. If states had continued the same level of funding they had in 2008 - McElwaine says an additional 358-thousand acres of agricultural land would have been saved and an additional two-thousand farmland conservation easements purchased. He says that’s the gap AFT is working hard to narrow with its state partners. McElwaine notes the U.S. has been losing one acre of farmland every minute to development. In the face of the global need to double food production by 2050 - he says that’s unacceptable. McElwaine says AFT believes state, local and national governments must step up to the plate and do more to protect land and keep farmers farming.

The survey released Tuesday shows states protected just under 89,500 acres of agricultural land in 2012 - acquiring 480 easements - and spent nearly 206-million dollars. Since 1979 - state farm and ranch land programs have protected more than two-million acres of agricultural land by acquiring 13,450 easements and spending a total of more than 3.6-billion dollars.

By the numbers - Colorado, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey and Vermont lead the 27 states with active farmland protection programs in the number of acres protected. When it comes to the percentage of farmland protected - New Jersey leads other states with 27-percent, Delaware with 21-percent, Maryland with 18-percent, Massachusetts with 13-percent and Vermont with 11-percent. New Jersey also leads other states in the most money spent for farmland protection - 975.1-million dollars - followed by Pennsylvania with 853-million, Maryland with 672.3-million, Massachusetts with 214.2-million and Colorado with 170.5-million.

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