U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) continues to raise awareness of land access, tenure and transitions as part of its commitment to grow the next generation of farmers and ranchers. USDA Secretary Vilsack has made improving access to land and capital, as well as extending new conservation opportunities and increasing education and technical support, priorities for the Department. USDA’s Fall Forums on Land Tenure & the Next Generation of Agriculture focused on identifying regional needs and Federal policy suggestions to the next Administration to improve access to land and capital for new and beginning farmers. The Forum in Ithaca, NY was one of several held this fall around the nation.
The Forum held October 3rd at Cornell University featured USDA Natural Resources and Environment Deputy Undersecretary Ann Mills, and other speakers. Kathy Ruhf, Land For Good’s Senior Program Director, and project leader for LFG’s BFRDP-funded Land Access Project was one of six panelists invited to speak on land tenure. Kathy, who also served on the USDA Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers (ACBFR) in its first six years, addressed the ACBFR Subcommittee on Land Tenure in June 2015. See USDA expands scope of the Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers to include Subcommittee on Land Tenure.
Land For Good is a recognized leader in land access, tenure and transfer issues in New England and nationally. We work on public policy at all levels of government, from municipal to state to federal, providing information and guidance on specific policy approaches and tools, testifying on land access challenges and barriers, and advocating for innovative policy solutions. We collaborate on policy development and advocacy with national, regional and state groups; and we lead and work on programs of national scope and significance. Increasingly, LFG is called on to conduct training, speak and provide program consulting to efforts in other states and regions.
In addressing the farmers at the Forum, Ann Mills said:
“We are a food-secure nation because of your work. We are able to access abundant food at reasonable prices, and America’s farmers and the rural communities where they work are an integral part of the fabric of our country.”
Panelists at the Forums came from diverse backgrounds: farmers and ranchers, academia, government, farm organizations, local stakeholder groups, agribusiness, and students. The USDA thanked panelists from all Forums for their “excellent thoughts, wisdom, and advice… and we have learned so much from each of you.”
Read more about LFG’s Advocacy work here and on our blog.