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    2019-2020 Sponsor Spotlight: American Farmland Trust

    American Farmland Trust is a gold level sponsor of The Chicago Farmers and Michael Happ, gave attendees at the January 13, 2020, meeting a brief overview of the group. Happ is director of development, Midwest, for American Farmland Trust (AFT), which advocates for farming.

    AFT is an early advocate of agricultural conservation and strives to ensure that the country’s farmland is not lost to poor community planning and harmful farming practices, said Happ.

    “In the last 20 years, the United States has lost an amount of farmland that is equivalent to the state of Iowa,” said Happ. “If continued, this pattern will jeopardize our country’s ability to feed its growing population.”

    Happ said that AFT is helping communities grow strategically so that farmland is not decimated. At the same time, AFT directly works with farmers to guide them in initiating healthy farming practices. “We are available to give them the resources they need to succeed in maintaining healthy soil” he related.

    Happ also noted that the farming population is aging with the average age of the American farmer being over 58-years-old and 40 percent of this group 65-years-old or more.

    “We are involved with young farmers and provide them with resources that help the young farmer early in their careers and erase barriers. Our goal is to give young farmers a smooth transition into farming,” Happ shared.

    Happ related that AFT has begun a five-year fundraising campaign for farmland protection and gifts and pledges of all sizes are both necessary and appreciated.

    “We are a non-profit group so monetary donations are a great help,” said Happ. “Look into our programming offerings and take advantage of them. Also, if you have young farmers in your family or community who could benefit from more resources, please put them in touch with us.”

    Happ may be contacted at [email protected]