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American Farmland Trust (AFT) announced the Farmland, Food and Livable Communities Conference will be held in Lexington, Ky. on Oct. 20-22. The conference will bring together leading experts from around the country for the first nationwide conference focused on farming, land use, and food policy. It will showcase and encourage best practices and inspire efforts to protect farmland and the environment, support the next generation of farmers and women in agriculture, encourage job creation and create new opportunities in local and regional food systems.
“This is the first time a national conference will bring together these diverse interests to comprehensively address the 21st century challenges of agriculture,” said Andrew McElwaine, President and CEO of AFT. “The Conference will encourage greater understanding and collaboration to support agricultural viability and vibrant community food systems.
“Nationally, we have been losing one acre of farmland every minute to other uses. Globally, we need to double food production by 2050,” said McElwaine. “With some of the most productive farmland in the world, the United States must be part of the solution to hunger here at home and around the world, and to do that, we must find creative ways to protect farmland and the farmers who sustain us.
“I want to thank Agriculture Commissioner James Comer for his support and his partners in the Commonwealth of Kentucky for their innovation in adopting effective strategies for protecting farmland, connecting farmers with consumers, and launching programs like Homegrown by Heroes,” said McElwaine. “I also want to thank American Farmland Trust Board member Libby Jones and former Gov. Brereton Jones for helping us plan this first-of-its-kind national gathering.”
“We are thrilled that American Farmland Trust has chosen Kentucky as the site of this national conference,” Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said. “The leaders and experts at this conference will take on some of the defining issues of the 21st century — food production, food safety, hunger, and balancing the need to protect the environment with the need to provide a safe, abundant, and affordable food supply to a growing global population. As a state with a rich agricultural heritage and a diverse agricultural industry, Kentucky will lead the way in meeting these challenges.”
"AFT began its relationship with state government in Kentucky during the Jones administration. They provided excellent technical assistance and valuable support, which led to the establishment of several public and private farmland protection entities. Since then, these groups have permanently protected more than 70,000 acres across the Commonwealth," said Libby Jones, AFT Board Member. "We are very excited the Trust is returning to Kentucky to lead this important Conference where we can all share our experiences, learn from each other, and be able to make even greater progress in the future."
The Conference programs will address four principal themes:
• Ensuring high quality farmland is available and affordable for agriculture;
• Supporting agricultural viability and a fair and just food system;
• Creating opportunities for the next generation of farmers; and
• Emerging issues for Women in Agriculture.
Keynote speakers and local as well as national leaders will share their experiences and expertise on these themes with many opportunities for participants to network, share information and learn about best-in-class practices, planning and policy development.
Other Conference highlights include:
• Kentucky Proud opening reception to give participants a chance to network and experience local fare from local farms, food enterprises and distilleries.
• Farm tour to showcase Fayette County’s world-renowned farms in its Rural Services Area and demonstrate the value of its land use planning and farmland protection efforts.
• Mobile Workshops to give participants a taste of urban agriculture and innovative local food enterprises in Louisville and Lexington, highlighting the value of these cities’ proactive plans and policies such as promoting infill and redevelopment, innovative food businesses, value-chain infrastructure and food access initiatives.
• Farmer-Chef Connection banquet to celebrate the farmers who have permanently protected their farmland and showcase the region’s seasonal bounty from local producers with recipes from chefs who create their award-winning cuisine in a sustainable way.
For more information on the Conference, visit the American Farmland Trust site. Interested participants can request to be notified by email when more information on registration, the agenda and other details are available by going to this webpage.
Information on Conference sponsorships is also available by contacting Susan Sink, Vice President of Development and External Affairs, AFT, 202-378-1206 or by email.
The American Farmland Trust is the nation’s leading conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land.