Nominations are now being accepted for American Farmland Trust's 2007 Steward of the Land Award. The $10,000 prize is presented each year to a farmer or rancher that best exemplifies American Farmland Trust's (AFT) mission of stopping the loss of productive farmland and promoting farming practices that lead to a healthy environment.
Nomination forms can be completed online at http://www.farmland.org/programs/award/default.asp, or can easily be printed out for completion by traditional methods at the same address. You may also call 202-378-1255 for an application, or with questions. Nomination materials will be accepted until 5 p.m. EST on Friday, Dec. 1, 2006.
Tom Hutson, a dairy farmer from DeLancey, NY was named the 10th Steward of the Land earlier this year. He operates River Haven Farm in New York's Catskill Mountains, part of the Catskill-Delaware watershed, where reservoirs supply drinking water for millions of New York City residents. By working with the locally-based Watershed Agricultural Council (WAC), and often himself serving as the pilot-site for project, Hutson and neighboring farmers have kept the watershed pristine enough to satisfy federal drinking water standards, sparing New York City the cost of a billion dollar water filtration plant. He and fellow farmers have participated by conserving their land and implementing conservation practices with technical and financial assistance from WAC.
"Tom has always understood how his farm's stakeholders include not only the consumers of his products but also the residents of New York City, whose clean drinking water depends on environmentally friendly agriculture," says Ralph Grossi, president of American Farmland Trust. "Tom both works the land and sustains it, yet preserved his land through an easement."
AFT's Steward of the Land Award is also working to raise awareness of the public benefits agriculture provides as discussions about changing farm policies in the 2007 Farm Bill begin. "As the 2007 Farm Bill approaches, it's more important than ever to show examples of people in agriculture working so hard to implement good stewardship practices on their land," says Grossi. "We need to keep in mind the many things that good farm stewards provide: clean water, open space and wildlife habitat and more, in addition to the food, fiber, fuel and timber products we enjoy every day. AFT can only honor one farmer each year through its Steward of the Land Award, but by supporting incentive-based farm policies that link payments to good stewardship and sound land management, our nation can honor thousands of farmers every year."Established in 1997, AFT's Steward of the Land Award recognizes the American farmer or farm family who best demonstrates leadership in protecting farmland and caring for the environment. The award honors the memory of Peggy McGrath Rockefeller, an avid farmer and conservationist who helped found AFT.