(Jamie) Welcome to Farm Factor! Let’s join Kyle and John Larson to learn about the American Farmland Trust.
(Kyle Bauer) Hi. This is Kyle Bauer from Kansas City. I have the opportunity to visit with John Larson; he’s with American Farmland Trust. John, I’m going to have you explain to the listeners, to the viewers, what American Farmland Trust does for agriculture? (John Larson) Sure Kyle, pleasure. American Farmland Trust is a non-profit that was founded in 1980 to really focus on the trend that was being established of development of our prime farmland. And thinking about it in the context, so cities were put certain places for a reason, there was water availability, majority of the time, but then there were other natural resources that really would assist that community in surviving, and really kind of functioning. The ‘80s really saw this kind of unabashed ability of developers to just sprawl out across the country. We were losing millions of acres. A group of very concerned citizens came together and formed the trust to really help to establish both policies and different targeted approaches to educate both the private land owner, the farmer, but then also the public on why is it important to protect farmland. (Kyle) The thing is though, as a retiring farmer we have that appreciation and land value is part of our retirement. How do you deal with that? (John) Absolutely, that’s a critical part of the puzzle that we have to take into consideration. The program that we have and what we promote are, let’s give that private land owner the value of what that development difference is between keeping it in farmland. So put an easement on it, purchase those developmental rights, and pay that private owner for. What we have then is we have the ability to keep it in farming, and have it available to that next generation so that it provides again that value of being productive farmland. (Kyle) There are a lot of farmland trusts around the country, and so most of that is transferred out to those local rather than you purchasing the easement? (John) Yes. When we first started in the ‘80s there weren’t very many land trusts in existence, so part of our push was to help to establish, we really truly believe that local decisions are the best ones. I mean those are the ones that have the staying power, because there is a vetting process that goes on in the community, and the value is hopefully in that decision at the local level, one that’s going to be of most value to the community, so establishing land trusts, establishing those places where those easements could be held. Early on we had a lot of easements in our portfolio. We have tried to transfer those, I don’t think there were very many land trusts at all in 1980. Today there are over 3,000 across the country. There’s the ability to have them be the ones to hold those easements at the local level, which is where it should be. We still have a portfolio, and we still will take on an easement and hold it, to make sure that we protect that farm ground. (Kyle) Visiting with John Larson. He’s with American Farmland Trust. This is Kyle Bauer reporting from Kansas City.
(Jamie) Folks, stay with us after the break. Next up is this week’s Kansas Soybean Update.
(Jamie) Welcome back to Farm Factor and the Kansas Soybean Update.