Thanks to those of you who contributed ideas to me or indicated your
interest in supporting family farms.
Five panelists spoke on the local agricultural and rural economy and
rural land preservation:
* Do Our Farms Make Economic Sense?
* Would Nearby County Models of Farming and Farmland Protection Work
* What Choices Do We Have?
* Finally--What Do Our Farmers Need?
A strong economic beginning was designed to catch the public's
attention. Our topnotch panelists were a leading dairy and crop
farmer; executive director, regional planning and development council;
nearby planning commission member featured in American FARMLAND; nearby
county agriculture development officer; and regional land trust board
president. Farmers and nonfarmers expressed their opinions that the
panelists and their talks were excellent.
This was the first opportunity for the public to hear about what is
happening to our local farming and to our rural way of life in the face
of growth, as well as to find out if anything can be done to save it.
The forum was well attended, and included seven elected officials.
Farmers made up nearly one-third of the audience and were pleasantly
surprised at the favorable opinions nonfarmers had about farming here.
Our audience survey questionnaire included the question: How much are
you willing to pay per year to preserve the area's farms? While half
of those completing the survey left that question blank, the other half
answered favorably, including "my fair share," and "whatever it takes."
People attending received a 12-page handout we prepared. It included
such topics as: Can What Happens to Rural Lands Here Impact you?,
Benefits and Options for Saving Rural Lands in the Path of Growth,
Creating a Rural Vision, and How Our Elected Officials View a Rural
Vision for Our Area."
Next I will be working on projects to strengthen local agriculture and
to see what can be done to preserve the farmland base. If any of you
want to share ideas on this, I will be glad to receive them.
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