American Farmland Trust is the only national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work. AFT launched the conservation agriculture movement and continues to raise public awareness through our No Farms, No Food message. Since our founding in 1980, AFT has helped permanently protect over 6.5 million acres of agricultural lands, advanced environmentally-sound farming practices on millions of additional acres, and supported thousands of farm families. Long a pioneering leader, AFT is now riding a new wave of growth, driven by agriculture’s most pressing needs and opportunities.
AFT established the Center for Agriculture in the Environment (CAE) in 1991 in partnership with Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. From 1991 to 2015, CAE provided the framework to help AFT recognize problems, identify issues and ask the right questions and create partnerships with university researchers (professors and students) across different disciplines. The Center shut down its offices at Northern Illinois University in 2015. However, research at AFT continued as the organization embarked on a comprehensive assessment of the past and future threats to America’s remaining farm and ranch land. The Farms Under Threat (FUT) Initiative uses advanced spatial analyses to map current and past land use, examine patterns of land use change, and assess future threats to America’s most valuable farmlands. Conservation Science Partners, a nonprofit scientific collective, provides the high-quality spatial analyses for the initiative. The resulting core analyses, reports, localized data, fact sheets, policy recommendations and media outreach will provide a solid foundation for the long-term protection and conservation of agricultural lands. In addition to this core research, AFT is also engaged in research on non-operating farmland owners and on ways to expand environmental markets. With the recent expansion of AFT and pending retirement of its current research director, AFT is now looking for a new Director to significantly expand the research agenda and capabilities of AFT’s research center to keep pace with AFT’s holistic mission.
The Director reports to the Vice President of Programs, who oversees the National Initiative Directors and works closely with the Vice President of Programs-overseeing AFT’s 6 Regional Directors. The Director will lead the Farms Under Threat Initiative and other research efforts and will actively collaborate and coordinate with all divisions at AFT to ensure that AFT’s programming is strategic, efficiently delivered, well-received, academically defensible and impactful.
The Director can be based anywhere in the United States but proximity to one or more academic institutions is desirable with a goal of establishing a Memorandum of Understanding with that institution or a consortium of institutions for greater access to university researchers, students, and post-doctoral candidates.