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AFTTime for farm policy to reward farmers' stewardship of land

As Earth Day was celebrated on Saturday, the nonprofit organization American Farmland Trust (AFT) declared U.S. farmers "great stewards of the land," and called for farm policy to reward them for that. AFT President Ralph Grossi said, "[Farmers] provide us with open space, wildlife habitat, clean water and other environmental benefits in addition to our food supply."

AFT says policymakers have told them that significant changes to U.S. farm policy are coming, which may provide a wide range of environmental benefits. "One of the messages AFT has received loud and clear is that farmers want to be rewarded for how they take care of the earth and our natural resources, not just for their production," Grossi said.

Federal government support for conservation and natural resource programs is falling short, according to AFT, with three out of every four farmers and ranchers who apply for conservation funding being rejected. "That's really unfortunate," Grossi said. "Since those farmers manage almost half of our nation's land, they have an enormous impact on water quality, wildlife habitat, global warming and much more."

Through its Farm Policy Campaign, AFT is working with farmers and ranchers to create solutions for the next farm bill. The group's goals are to strengthen agriculture and expand environmental stewardship on working farms and ranches; provide additional resources for conservation, land preservation and environmental stewardship; encourage farmer innovation and entrepreneurship; and help farmers manage the inherent risks in agriculture.

"To craft a farm policy that works for farmers and ranchers, and provides the environmental benefits we need to maintain a healthy working lands would be a win-win situation for the public and agriculture," Grossi said. "We would really be able to celebrate agriculture's role in Earth Day."

As Earth Day was celebrated on Saturday, the nonprofit organization American Farmland Trust (AFT) declared U.S. farmers "great stewards of the land," and called for farm policy to reward them for that. AFT President Ralph Grossi said, "[Farmers] provide us with open space, wildlife habitat, clean water and other environmental benefits in addition to our food supply."

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