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Scenic Hudson Study Sheds Light On Farmland Protection

Robert Rodriguez, Jr.

An environmental group in New York has released a study it says provides a blueprint for farmland protection in the Hudson Valley. The study, which the group touts as the first of its kind, calls upon many stakeholders to ensure the region, along with New York City, can continue to count on fresh, local food.

Poughkeepsie-based Scenic Hudson, with the support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, conducted the study, entitled “Securing Fresh, Local Food for New York City and the Hudson Valley: A Foodshed Conservation Plan for the Region.”

Steve Rosenberg is executive director of The Scenic Hudson Land Trust.

And, according to the study, 5,387 farms are located with the 11-county Hudson Valley region, with only 11 percent having been conserved.

Foodshed identified 815 farms totaling slightly more than 212,000 acres as highest priority for conservation, plus 1,970 farms totaling more than 263,000 acres as high priority.

Richard McCarthy is executive director of Slow Food USA, a global, grassroots movement which links good, clean, and fair food with a commitment to community and the environment.

Slow Food USA is based in Brooklyn.

McCarthy says he is keen to share the study and its methodology with the 200 local Slow Food chapters across the U.S. that are embedded in regional food communities.

Scenic Hudson’s Rosenberg says the study has a number of target audiences.

He says as far as policy, the state has a tremendous opportunity to play a catalytic role for farmland conservation, a role that can also play out on local and federal levels.

Slow Food USA’s McCarthy says juxtaposing a study like “Foodshed” with the recent debate over the five-year federal Farm Bill, which was defeated in the U.S. House last week, may underscore a sea change in local farm and food initiatives gaining more ground.

Scenic Hudson’s “Foodshed” study, meanwhile, hopes to highlight that farmland protection is about achieving a triple bottom line – social, environmental, and economic objectives.

There is link to the Foodshed study via the following site: http://www.scenichudson.org/foodshedplan

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