American Farmland Trust Holds No Farms No Food® Rally & Lobby Day

American Farmland Trust Holds No Farms No Food® & Rally  Lobby Day

New York farmers, soup kitchen volunteers, land trusts, community gardeners, chefs, town officials, and local food advocates will converge at the State Capitol in Albany on March 30 for American Farmland Trust’s annual No Farms No Food® Rally and Lobby Day. There, they will meet in person with more than 100 state legislators to tell them that the loss of farms and farmland hurts New York’s economy and food security.

Speakers include: Robert Morgenthau, former Manhattan District Attorney; Commissioner of Agriculture Darrel Aubertine; Assemblyman Bill Magee, chairman of the Assembly Agriculture Committee; Reverend Robert Jackson Founder, Brooklyn Rescue Mission, Bed-Stuy Farm and Malcolm X Farmers Market; and Richard Ball, Schoharie Valley Farms, District 9 Director, New York Farm Bureau. We will also meet directly with more than 100 legislators to talk about the critical importance of state programs that invest in farms, food and farmland.

Concern about food security, access to locally grown foods and public health issues such as childhood obesity has never been higher. Yet, New York State continues to lose one farm to development every 3 _ days. Over the last 25 years the state has lost half a million acres of farmland to subdivisions, strip malls and other scattered development. The loss of agricultural land is even more critical in light of the fact that New York’s currently existing farmland is capable of feeding only 6 million of the state’s population of 19 million. That’s just 30 percent of state residents.

Agriculture is the foundation of New York’s economy yet the loss of farmland is limiting the state’s ability to produce food and the dollars it brings. New York State’s farms generated $4.7 billion in economic activity in 2009 and serve as the cornerstone of the state’s $31 billion farm and food industry. Plus, farmers support thousands of local businesses. In 2007, New York farmers spent $3.5 billion on supplies and services.

New York needs to invest in its farms and food systems now more than ever before. The No Farms No Food® Rally & Lobby Day agenda includes support for programs that invest in farm and food jobs, protect farmland and the environment and support farmers markets, community gardens, and other programs that expand the availability of local food to more New Yorkers. Programs such as the Farmland Protection Program, Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program and others will be highlighted by participants.

The No Farms No Food® Rally & Lobby day is free of charge. It runs from 9:00 to 4:00 and includes a local foods lunch. Free bus transportation is available roundtrip from New York City to Albany. For more information and online rally registration go to www.farmland.org/newyork or call (518) 581-0078.

Written by Hannah Geller from American Farmland Trust.