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New Publication Showcases Urban-Rural Cooperation
Farmers and city dwellers find common ground to stop sprawling development

Washington, D.C. (June 13, 2002) — A new publication and Web site released by American Farmland Trust and The United States Conference of Mayors highlight unprecedented cooperation between rural and urban leaders on policies that will promote smarter land use decisions affecting farms and cities.

Town Meets Country: Farm-City Forums on Land and Community reports on the results of five meetings held around the country to explore land use issues facing urban and rural communities. The forums revealed that farmers and urbanites have a common enemy: land-wasting sprawl development.

"Sprawl hurts farms and cities alike by drawing development out onto the fertile countryside surrounding cities," said American Farmland Trust President Ralph Grossi. "We need to recycle abandoned industrial brown fields and revitalize urban areas in order to safeguard our green fields from development."

"Protecting farmland and agriculture is extremely important to the overall quality of life within cities," said Charlotte Mayor Patrick McCrory, who chairs the U.S. Conference of Mayors Environment Committee. "More than half of our food is grown on farmland near cities. We must protect this resource for future generations of city residents."

The model farm-city forums were held in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Charlotte, North Carolina; Rochester, New York; and in both Everett and Tacoma, Washington.

One of the most surprising results of the forums was that many participants reported that they had never before sat down to discuss land use issues with their counterparts from the city or countryside.

Don Stuart, American Farmland Trust's Pacific Northwest regional director, who coordinated the forums in Tacoma and Everett, Washington, said, "Farms cannot exist without cities and cities cannot exist without farms. It's a relationship that goes back to the dawn of history. Working together, farmers and urbanites can be a powerful force to control sprawl."

To extend resources and information to all communities around the country, AFT and USCM have set up a Web site with details on how to organize a farm-city forum, including sample agendas and invitations. This, as well as the publication, can be found at www.farmland.org and usmayors.org.

The new publication and Web site emerged from a national level partnership between AFT and The U.S. Conference of Mayors formed in June of 1999 to focus on issues concerning the preservation of America's farmland and the revitalization of cities. Although the partnership is unique, AFT also works closely with a number of organizations dedicated to smart growth. AFT President Ralph Grossi serves as chairman of Smart Growth America, a nationwide coalition promoting a better way to grow: one that protects farmland and open space, revitalizes neighborhoods, keeps housing affordable, and provides more transportation choices.

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American Farmland Trust is a private, nonprofit farmland conservation organization founded in 1980 to stop the loss of productive farmland and to promote farming practices that lead to a healthy environment. Its action-oriented programs include public education, technical assistance in policy development and demonstration farmland protection projects. To receive an electronic version of this news release, please e-mail AFT at rmiller@farmland.org. For more information, visit AFT's homepage at www.farmland.org.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official bipartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more represented by its chief elected official, the mayor. For more information, visit usmayors.org.

Contact:
Robyn Miller, (202) 331-7300, ext. 3055