Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Planning the Future of Your Farm

Last Thursday I attended a workshop on "Farm and Estate Transition and Conservation Easements,"sponsored by the Madison-Morgan Conservancy at the Burge Plantation outside Madison, Georgia. The audience was a mix of landowners and lawyers interested in helping farm owners conserve their land and pass their farms onto future generations.  This is a very interesting twist on estate planning, and I learned the value of having a qualified lawyer as an adviser on farmland transition.  For example, according to Allen H. Olsen, a agriculture law specialist, traditional estate planning can sometimes create governance structures that make the farmer ineligible for farm subsidy programs, thus undermining the farm's ability to survive.

The Rolling Hills Resource Conservation and Development Council has published "Planning the Future of Your Farm: A Workbook Supporting Farm Transfer Decisions."  I've only had a chance to scan through the Table of Contents, but the book seems to be chock full of tools for planning family meetings, evaluating farm resources, and drafting farm transfer tools.  It looks like a great resource for anyone working with farmers interested in effectively planning for the future.

Jamie Baker Roskie

September 28, 2010 in Agriculture, Conferences, Conservation Easements, Georgia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Shirley Sherrod to Speak at EJ Conference in Gainesville, Ga

By now probably most of you have heard the story of Shirley Sherrod, most recently of the USDA, forced to resign after a highly edited version of an old speech she gave to the NAACP made it seem as if she is unsympathetic to white farmers. (In fact, she was making the opposite point in her speech.)  While the agency has since offered to rehire her, she has decided to move on. (Bill O'Reilly even apologized to her for showing the edited clip on his show.)

She will be speaking October 9th in Gainesville, Georgia at a conference on environmental justice sponsored by the Newtown Florist Club. As I've blogged before, NFC is a client of our clinic and one of the oldest and most effective community organizations in Georgia.  The conference coincides with the Club's 60th anniversary, and I will also be speaking on a panel on October 8th regarding how EJ communities can work with lawyers.  Should be pretty interesting!  If you or someone you know might be interested in attending the conference, contact NFC.

Jamie Baker Roskie

September 15, 2010 in Agriculture, Conferences, Environmental Justice | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Georgia Farms "Crop Mobbed"

From Christine McCauley, Executive Director of the Madison-Morgan Conservancy in Madison, Georgia:

What is a crop mob?  Well, we found out yesterday that it’s a group of self-proclaimed “landless farmer wannabes” who help local farmers farm – from planting to harvesting to building greenhouses, and everything in between.  They get their farming “fix” so to speak by helping other farmers, since they can’t farm for themselves.  

Yesterday, the Crop Mob came from Atlanta to Tate Tewksbury’s farm to help build two hoop houses (greenhouse-like structures used for growing crops).  To celebrate a fruitful morning of hard work, Mark Tewksbury (Tate’s father) was kind enough to host the Crop Mob at his farm just up the road.  Plow Point Farms (Walton County) brought freshly processed chicken for lunch and Suzie Cooker Catering complemented the chicken with delicious fresh butterbeans and pimento cheese sandwiches.  We were thrilled to be joined by our favorite local band, The Barefoot Hookers for a little music and dancing by the barn.  Mark Tewksbury led the kids (and CNN) in milking the cows, petting the horses, and showing us the rest of the farm.  All in all a really fun, productive, educational day, and one that has helped Tate prepare for the next growing season.

Two weekends ago Burge Organics was Crop Mobbed, too - there the Crop Mob helped farm manager Cory Musser harvest hundreds of pounds of squash and other veges.  Check out Crop Mob Atlanta.

"A University of Georgia study says Georgia's economy could be boosted if more people bought more food locally.  The study, conducted by the May Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, reports that if every Georgia household spent an additional $10 on locally-grown food, another $1.9 billion would be pumped into the state's coffers.  Agriculture in Georgia is a $11.6 billion industry with a $58 billion total economic impact, according to the study.” reprinted from the Associated Press.

I've heard of the slightly-less-hiply named "Farmer for a Day." It's all part of a movement to help us city dwellers get closer to, and learn more about, the source of our food.

Jamie Baker Roskie

September 1, 2010 in Agriculture, Georgia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Salkin & Kansler on Medical Marijuana Meets Land Use

Patricia E. Salkin (Albany) wrote to let us know that she and Zachary Kansler (Albany) have posted Medical Marijuana Meets Land Use: Can You Grow, Smoke, and Sell that Here?  The abstract:

Fourteen states currently permit the medical use of marijuana, yet state statutes fail to account for the challenges that confront municipal planners and officials whose agenda includes public health, safety and welfare of residents, including minor children. The intensity of the problem is perhaps most evident in Los Angeles, where there are approximately 800 dispensaries. Varying statutory approaches are provided for individuals to legitimately acquire the drug - they may grow it themselves, they may obtain it from their primary caregiver, or they may obtain it from a licensed dispensary. This raises a number of land use regulatory questions including: whether state law preempts local zoning when it comes to growing, buying and using marijuana for medicinal purposes; whether distance requirements, similar to those used in the regulation of adult business uses, can be utilized to regulate the use of medical marijuana; and, what types of special use permit considerations may be appropriate for considering activities related to the use of medical marijuana. In addition, questions as to whether growing and sale of the drug may constitute a valid home occupation, and whether marijuana is or should be considered an agricultural crop, and if so, what impact this would have on the relationship between agricultural regulation/policy and zoning, suggest a growing number of legal unanswered land use law related questions in this emerging area. This article pulls together information about how the municipalities in the fourteen states with legalized medical marijuana are beginning to sort through and address the challenging land use issues that confront communities faced with the growing, sale and use of the drug.

Interesting and timely, and more support for my theory that every important issue ultimately has a land use angle.

Matt Festa

July 10, 2010 in Agriculture, Local Government, Nuisance, Politics, Scholarship, State Government, Zoning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Guerilla Gardeners

We have posted several times on the movement towards urban agriculture (and chickens) and neighborhood gardening.  But sometimes The Man (and zoning and other land use codes) won't allow it. From the Wisconsin State Journal, Guerilla Gardeners: They leave a garden when no one else is looking.

True “guerrilla gardening” — planting in a public place, where one doesn’t have permission — is difficult to confirm and by nature is secret. It’s also illegal, although the city prefers to educate residents rather than enforce a $500 fine for violating tree planting rules, said George Hank, the city’s director of building inspection.
Guerrilla gardeners have their own code of conduct, said John, the East Side guerrilla gardener who the State Journal is not identifying because he also is a volunteer gardener with the city and does not want to lose that position.
“My thought is always that people not mess with other people’s gardens,” John said. “There are so many places that need attention around this city.”

Matt Festa

May 30, 2010 in Agriculture, Environmentalism, Urbanism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Federal Eminent Domain on the Border?

In another example confirming my belief that every legal and policy issue ultimately has land use implications, here's an article that touches on border control, the federal stimulus package, agriculture, and eminent domain.  From the northern border: Vermont farmer draws a line at US bid to bolster border: Homeland Security threatens to seize 4.9 acres.

FRANKLIN, Vt. — The red brick house sits unassumingly on a sleepy back road where the lush farmlands of northern Vermont roll quietly into Canada. This is the Morses Line border crossing, a point of entry into the United States where more than three cars an hour constitute heavy traffic.

The bucolic setting of silos and sugar maples has become the focus of a bitter dispute that pits one of America’s most revered traditions — the family-owned farm — against the post-9/11 reality of terror attacks on US soil.


The Department of Homeland Security sees Morses Line as a weak link in the nation’s borders, attractive to terrorists trying to smuggle in lethal materials. The government is planning an estimated $8 million renovation here as part of a nationwide effort to secure border crossings.


It intends to acquire 4.9 acres of border land on a dairy farm owned for three generations by the Rainville family. Last month, the Rainvilles learned that if they refuse to sell the land for $39,500, the government intends to seize it by eminent domain.


The Rainvilles call this an unjustified land-grab by federal bullies.

Would it make more sense to close such a little-used facility, whether on fiscal grounds or to avoid resort to federal eminent domain?  

Matt Festa

May 22, 2010 in Agriculture, Eminent Domain, Federal Government, Financial Crisis | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Schneider on Agricultural Law: Food, Farming, and Sustainability

Susan A. Schneider (Arkansas) has posted A Reconsideration of Agricultural Law: A Call for the Law of Food, Farming, and Sustainability, forthcoming in the William and Mary Environmental Law & Policy Review, Vol. 34, p. 95 (2010).  The abstract:

American agricultural policy has evolved from its early focus on agricultural development and expansion to its current emphasis on providing economic support for the agricultural sector. Agricultural law as a discipline has tracked this policy, with agricultural law scholars debating the origins and the validity of the special treatment of agriculture under the law. This article reviews these debates and calls for a reconsideration of agricultural law and policy. It argues for agricultural policies that consider the production of safe and healthy food as the primary goal. Agricultural law in this context can address the unique aspects of agricultural production, the fragility of the environment, and sustainability concerns, all in the context of a systemic food policy. Transforming the special law of agriculture to focus on the sustainable production of healthy food is a critical challenge for the future.

Matt Festa

May 12, 2010 in Agriculture, Environmental Law, Scholarship, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Furloughs, Budget Cuts, and Rural Georgia

Tomorrow is a furlough day for the University System in Georgia, which means I'm forbidden to work. Only faculty and staff who provide "essential services" are allowed to report on furlough days and, ironically enough, instruction is not considered an essential service.

These are lean budgetary times and we're all expected to share the burden.  I have no problem with that.  However, it's hard not to be concerned about what lies ahead. The legislature is in its final day and hopefully at the end of it we'll have a state budget for FY 2011.

"What does that have to do with land use," you might ask?  That depends on how much of a cut the University system takes in the final budget.  Last month the legislature asked the Chancellor to submit a budget that included $300 million in additional cuts, over the budget cuts they have already made and were making for 2011.  The Chancellor's proposal would eliminate the 4-H program and cut the number of county extension agents in half.  In a state where agriculture is a dominant economic force, those cuts are extremely significant.  (UGA's Public Service and Outreach branch would also suffer layoffs of up to 47% of faculty and staff.)

It doesn't look as if such extreme cuts will come, but the cut will probably be about $150 million, which is still pretty significant.  In state like Georgia, rural communities depend on UGA to fulfill its land grant mission of service.  Extension agents are vital sources of knowledge on land use practices, soil and water conservation, and a host of other subjects. As federal stimulus dollars dry up, it becomes increasingly difficult for the University to fulfill those functions.  We'll see what lies ahead.

Jamie Baker Roskie

April 29, 2010 in Agriculture, Budgeting, Georgia, Politics, State Government, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pils on Property, Dignity, and Growth in Urbanizing China

Here's another paper posted by Eva Pils (Chinese University of Hong Kong): Waste No Land: Property, Dignity, and Growth in Urbanizing China.  The abstract:

The Chinese state does not allow rural collectives to sell land, but takes land from them and makes it available on the urban property market. While rural land rights are thus easily obliterated, the newly created urban rights in what used to be rural land enjoy legal protection. The state justifies these land takings by the need for urbanization and economic growth. The takings have resulted in an impressive contribution of the construction and property sector to state revenue and GDP growth, but also in unfairness toward peasants evicted from their land and homes. The example discussed here shows that certain economic theories of property rights are consistent with discrimination and should therefore be rejected. A further conclusion is that we must reconsider the claim that property rights are desirable because they serve economic growth. The discussion here contributes to an understanding of property in terms of dignity, rather than wealth.

Matt Festa

April 21, 2010 in Agriculture, Comparative Land Use, Development, Property Rights, Property Theory, Scholarship, Takings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Nothing says "Be Mine" quite like . . . manure

On the 14th I was disappointed that I couldn't think of any holiday-themed items to blog about for Valentine's Day.  But a Minnesota farmer has come to my rescue with seven loads of manure.  From KIMT.com, Local Farmer Makes Manure Valentine:

Bruce Andersland raises cattle and farms near Albert Lea Minnesota, and this Valentine's Day, he's saying "I Love You" to his wife Beth of nearly forty years, in a unique way. . . .

He used his machinery to draw this arrow pirced heart on their farm land, with manure. . . .

After seven loads of fertilizer he let his wife beth in on his big Valentine's wish.

Beth said, "I've had flowers, jewelery, and chocolate, this was something from the heart and imagination and he's very creative and very thoughtful so this was something special."

Bruce said he thought up the idea one day when he noticed just how well the dark manure showed up on the white snow. . . .

It's about a half a mile wide and in order to see the whole thing you need a plane.

So, they hired a pilot to take aerial shots of the Bruce's creation.

Click the link above for an aerial photo of the giant manure heart.  The fun isn't over yet, either:

Bruce said, "now next year we're gonna see if the corn grows a little better in the shape of a heart."

Thanks to John McKinney for the pointer.  Now if only someone would send me a good land use story for Mardi Gras or Ash Wednesday!

Matt Festa

February 16, 2010 in Agriculture, Humorous | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Call for Papers in Urban Agriculture

Special Topic Call: Best Practices in Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture Development.

JAFSCD welcomes research or policy briefs, and case studies (up to 2,500 words) and full articles (up to 8,500 words) on best community-development practices related to:

  • Urban livestock management and regulation
  • Urban market gardening and backyard gardening
  • Marketing and value-adding
  • Waste management and reuse
  • Urban farming by immigrant or other special populations
  • Farming on the fringe
Deadline: June 5, 2010
(The deadline may be extended with permission of the publisher.)
 
Briefs, case studies, and articles should focus on illustrative programs or projects, survey results, literature reviews, and public policy that are related to — but not limited to — land-use planning and regulation, health ordinances or their implementation, training and educational programs, marketing systems or value chains, partnership development, systems approaches, issues of scale, and farm-neighbor relations. We are particularly interested in holistic approaches that combine community and economic development with environmental protection.
 
More background on this topic is at www.AgDevJournal.com.
Matt Festa

February 2, 2010 in Agriculture, Scholarship, Urbanism | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)