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Legislatively Speaking
Legislatively Speaking: Preservation & Modern Farming
 

By Alma Graham, CT State Grange Legislative Director

  August 5, 2021 --

One of the items that we closely monitor during the Legislative session is  the  status of the Community Investment Act (CIA) funds. Funding for the CIA is generated from a fee that is collected at the time land deeds are recorded in the towns. The funding is earmarked for four different programs. One is the funding for the Department of Agriculture’s Farmland Preservation Fund. The Department of Agriculture preserves working agricultural lands by purchasing the development rights to the agricultural properties. This is to ensure that the land remains in agricultural use.

In doing so, a permanent restriction is placed  on  the  deed of those properties while the properties still remain in the individual private ownership. This restriction prohibits using the land for commercial non-agricultural uses. They cannot sell the gravel or removed the soil unless it’s for permitted uses on the farms and must follow best land management practices.

We have an  interesting  issue in my area that made me think about  the  farmland  preservation restrictions. We have a farm in the

area that years ago entered into the farmland preservation program. The farm has recently been sold to a person who operates commercial greenhouses  in  New  York.   He is  proposing  building  up  to  six commercial greenhouses on the property for the purpose of raising and selling organic produce year- round. One of the products proposed is hemp for the use of making teas.     His   greenhouses   feature a highly industrialized robotic operation within the greenhouses. Watering needs, soil, lighting and temperatures are closely computer monitored and adjusted as needed. His proposal also includes the building of driveways and buildings for packaging and shipping of the products.

The neighbors have been questioning, is this considered a commercial industry which would be prohibited by the land use guidelines or is it an agricultural use adhering to the guidelines. So far, I understand that the state and local zoning has approved the proposal.

Farming is rapidly becoming automated in many areas. J Allen Cameron gave a very interesting ZOOM presentation on the automatic robotic milking machines that are being used in commercial dairy farms. The Peterson Farms have a very interesting Facebook site that demonstrates modern farming in fun ways. Does our definition of agricultural uses need to be refined or updated?

 

 
 
 

 
     
     
       
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