Ecosystem Services in Working Lands: US Northeast

Finally, another growing area of opportunity for expanding market presence comes in the form of agro- tourism. This industry often includes various organizational partnerships or alliances and provides additional value to producers by marketing the places and experiences associated with food and agriculture along with the products it produces. In this sense, it taps a similar vein as place-, product-, and practice-based certifications do by drawing increased value and market presence from not only the thing being produced, but also the context in which it was produced. Agro-tourism programs in the U.S. Northeast are numerous, including the following:

• The Maryland Wine Explorer program promotes wine tours among the state’s vineyards.

• The Apple Orchards Membership program through the New England Apple Association (NEAA) promotes the apple industry in the region through educational and promotional events and projects. For orchards that become members, the New England Apple Association (NEAA) provides a number of ways for farmers to increase their exposure and provide year-round visibility for their business.

In other states, there are also loan and grant opportunities available to producers to promote agritourism.

• The Vermont Community Loan Fund’s Agrotouris m Loan Program provides financing and business development services that help Vermont’s farmers and food producers make agritourism a part of their business model. Through this program, typical agritourism activities include the operation of a farm stand, horseback riding, food and wine tasting, harvest festivals, overnight stays, and guided tours. • In West Virginia, the Partner Community Capital Local Food Value Chains Initiative leverages the potential of agro-tourism as one part of a larger strategy to build scalable food and farm businesses that create real jobs by growing, buying, moving, and consuming local foods. They do so by nurturing strong business networks across the food system, including production, processing, retail, restaurants, agri-tourism, and more.

4.3 WORKING FORESTS AND WOODLANDS

The working forests and woodlands category specifically targets forests and woodland areas and/or land owners who manage such areas. Along with agricultural lands, forest areas constitute one of the major terrestrial working land covers, more broadly. Especially in the U.S. Northeast, where a substantial amount of forest lands are held by private landowners, the working forests and woodlands category is important for highlighting programs tailored specifically to these areas (Figure 9).

4.3.1 Programs for Producers/ Businesses

4.3.1.1 Sustaining habitat for family forests and working woodlands

For producers and businesses, the ecosystem service most frequently targeted by programs in this category was habitat production (n=54), specifically of forests, woodlands, and associated wildlife. In order to incentivize landowners to use these practices, there are a number of methods that these programs employ.

Tax incentives — whether through abatements, exemptions, or modifications — are one common way that a number of states promote conservation of forests and woodlands for private landowners.

• New Hampshire has a program that allows for modifications to personal income taxes among landowners who initiate forest management practices such as timber stand improvement and reforestation. As is the case with many of these tax-based programs, applicants must own a particular amount of forest land to qualify, in this case between 10 and 500 acres. For those that do qualify, however, certain practices may allow landowners to deduct double the amount from their state tax liability.

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