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BNRC is for Farmers

Posted Friday, December 2, 2022

I love to end (or begin) a perfect day at one of the Berkshires' many farm-sourced restaurants. And summers wouldn't be complete without stops at Berkshire farmer's markets or farm stores. I think we can agree that local, fresh ingredients just taste better.

Do you have a favorite spot to dine? Or a favorite marketplace? What is your favorite locally produced cheese?

We love our area farmers. But farmland is at risk across the United States and within the Berkshires. The latest Census of Agriculture, completed in 2017, showed a 10% decrease in the total number of Berkshire farms.

What will the 2022 census show? How many more farms will be subdivided because the land is worth more than the next generation of farmers can afford? Or because the farmer does not have heirs who want to take over the business?

As a BNRC donor you preserve Berkshire farms and support Berkshire farmers.

Donate to BNRC

The risk to farmland is, unfortunately, an issue nationwide.

The New York Times recently published this article: "Farmland Values Hit Record Highs, Pricing Out Farmers."

The article highlights some distressing facts:

  • Nationwide, farmland values increased by 12.4%, the highest annual increase on record since 1970
  • Young farmers named "finding affordable land for purchase" the top challenge in 2022 in a National Young Farmers Coalition survey
  • About 40% of US farmland is rented, most of which is from landlords who aren't actively involved in farming
  • Annually, less than 1% of farmland is available for sale

These facts are alarming. But together we can address these concerns in the Berkshires.

At BNRC, farmers and farmland are a top priority.

BNRC has facilitated the protection of thousands of acres of local farmland—in part using Agriculture Preservation Restrictions (APRs)—and will continue to do so.

BNRC purchases Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares–a system in which shares of a farmer's harvest are purchased in advance, providing those farmers with immediate income at the beginning of the growing season to support their work.

BNRC also owns agricultural land, thanks to land donors. A thoughtful strategy is being developed by staff, with the help of other land trusts and community partners, to determine how to best serve local farmers with this land.

These efforts seek to ensure farmers can afford to live and work farms right here in the Berkshires. And to ensure residents and visitors can support local agriculture by shopping those farmer's markets, those farm stores, those local restaurants.

These efforts are possible thanks to donors like you.

Donate to BNRC

BNRC is donor-funded. Your contributions today make all this happen in an ongoing way.

Thank you for all that you do as a BNRC donor!

Jenny Hansell
President, BNRC