Spotlight Interviews

Leland Strom
Leland Strom is chairman and CEO of the Farm Credit Administration, the independent regulatory agency that examines Farm Credit System institutions to ensure sound lending practices for farmers and ranchers. Strom and his family, of Kane County, Ill., were instrumental in making a place for farmland preservation in the state of Illinois, and were first to preserve their farms in that county’s purchase of development rights (PDR) program – the only such program in the state. We spoke with Strom Jan. 13, 2010, about his preservation experience and about the role FCA plays in the future of urban edge agriculture.
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Greg Bowen
Greg Bowen has had a long career in farmland protection. He administered the Calvert County, Md. farmland preservation program before becoming planning director in 2005. He oversaw creation of the purchase as well as transfer of development rights programs and an installment purchase program beginning in the 1990s. FPR spoke with Greg May 6, 2009.
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Alvin D. Sokolow
Specialist emeritus at the University of California, Davis

Alvin D. Sokolow conducts research and writes on farmland policy and local governance issues. In 2003 Sokolow led the nation’s most in-depth study to date on agricultural easement programs in the U.S., a joint project of UC-Davis’ Agricultural Issues Center and the American Farmland Trust. The study’s final reports were released in 2006. In this interview, see what Sokolow learned about the federal Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program while writing for the journal Publius.
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J. Dixon Esseks
Visiting Scholar at the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska

J. Dixon “Dick” Esseks talks about his latest research, trying to answer the question of questions in farmland preservation: “why bother?” Dick has been exploring the facts – or non-facts – behind the policies that make up farmland preservation programs in states and localities around the nation since the 1960’s. He started out by wondering why some of the world’s best farmland – in Northeastern Illinois – was being paved over without even a wince from local officials.
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Jim Slama
President of Sustain

Jim Slama is President of Sustain, Inc., a nonprofit organization that is working to build local food production in the Chicago region. Jim is hard at work implementing the Illinois Food, Farms and Jobs Act. The Act created a task force to plan a local food system, “whether it is programs to promote farmland preservation in urban edge communities, or getting the type of distribution and warehousing infrastructure that’s necessary to serve farmers …we will seek funding for it.” See what Jim has to say about food production and the loss of farmland around the Windy City.
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Gary Matteson
Farm Credit Council and New Hampshire flower grower

Gary Matteson is a lobbyist for the Farm Credit Council. Matteson thinks the farm bill should help create the infrastructure for local food systems. According to Matteson, the “solution providers” for farmland protection and viability are going to be the small farm businesses that are supplying local markets on the urban edge. Matteson is working to extend Farm Credit authority to finance urban edge food system startups. Share our enthusiasm for Gary’s new way of thinking about how to preserve farmland.
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Bill Powel
Bill Powel recently finished a “gradual downsizing’ of his career with the Carroll County, Md. farmland preservation program. Bill was a pioneer in farmland protection and was among the first in the county to preserve his farm. FPR spoke with Bill on Nov. 9, 2009 about his farm, about Carroll County’s master plan rewrite, and the future for farming in Carroll.

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